Stephen McGlinchey, University of the West of England
Copyright Year: 2016
ISBN 13: 9781910814185
Publisher: E-International Relations
Conditions of Use
Many reviewers have noted that the book doesn't talk about war. This is incorrect. The chapter on protecting people is really about war and civil war presented in a novel way. The chapter on Pax Americana is also about security. There should... read more
Many reviewers have noted that the book doesn't talk about war. This is incorrect. The chapter on protecting people is really about war and civil war presented in a novel way. The chapter on Pax Americana is also about security. There should be more discussion of the causes of wars and civil wars, however. In addition, the chapter on the making of the modern world suggests that the European colonies copied the European ideas of how to run a country. This is a huge oversimplification of the system of colonization and the history of countries post-colonization. In addition, the textbook does not talk about dictatorship and human rights violations, and the global response.
The textbook is inaccurate mostly because it's separate chapters allow each author to condense huge topics into a very short space
The 2016 free edition can be used as a textbook but the textbook has been updated, but the update is no longer free.
The writing is extraordinarily free of jargon and the international relations vocabulary that is generally used in IR textbooks.
Each chapter has a separate author but it does begin by making a connection to other chapters.
Each chapter is very short and can be assigned at different points within the course.
While the first chapter downplays the harms done by colonization, the chapter on poverty discusses colonization as one of the causes of global poverty. The chapter on food insecurity has a "bottom up perspective" that gives examples from everyday life in a number of countries and is designed to draw in readers rather than overwhelm them with global statistics. It is more like a reader on International Relations topics and has chapter that are not in a number of standard texts.
There are no interface issues.
I found no grammatical errors.
As I have said in previous comments, the first chapter is quite insensitive, but others are much more inclusive. The chapter on the internet and devices includes examples from many countries, giving students a wider perspective on the world.
Peter Vale's chapter with personal reflections on the field of IR would make a good starting chapter for a course in lieu of the 1st chapter of this book.
Part One of the text lays out the basic building blocks that one would expect to find in an introductory international relations textbook, and then in Part Two the authors compellingly explore these concepts across a wide range of relevant global... read more
Part One of the text lays out the basic building blocks that one would expect to find in an introductory international relations textbook, and then in Part Two the authors compellingly explore these concepts across a wide range of relevant global issues.
The content is accurate and the analysis reflects in-depth consideration of the theories, concepts, and case studies presented.
The content is up-to-date and incorporates both canonical and contemporary case studies in its explication of the material. The text builds on foundational case studies and then applies this knowledge to the contemporary period.
The writing is clear and concise. The text is appropriate to a lower-division undergraduate level student.
Both the terminology and framework of the chapters is internally consistent. The organization of the text results in clarity and presents logically arranged ideas to support a comprehensive, cohesive portrait of the discipline for the introductory level.
Chapters make effective use of section headings and the text is easily and readily divisible. Instructors using this text will find that it is flexible and that sections can be assigned at different points within the course. Chapters function effectively either as stand-alone treatments of their topics or as complements with other chapters. For instance, assigning one chapter from Part One of the text ('The Basics') along with one chapter from Part Two of the text ('Global Issues') would usefully blend the more theoretically, abstract discussion of topics in Part One with the more detailed, case-specific treatment in Part Two.
Related ideas are well-grouped and the presentation of topics is logical and clear.
The text does not suffer from problems with navigation, image distortion, or other interface issues.
Sentence structure and grammar are excellent.
The examples are cross-cultural in scope and the the text is culturally sensitive in treatment of its topics.
It is pretty much comprehensive. Possibly, below stuffs can be added: democratic peace theory, capitalist peace theory, domestic audience costs, power transition theory, etc. read more
It is pretty much comprehensive.
Possibly, below stuffs can be added: democratic peace theory, capitalist peace theory, domestic audience costs, power transition theory, etc.
Yes, they provide accurate information and I could not find misinformation.
Highly relevant, but, of course, the most recent IR events (e.g., the evolution of US foreign policy during the Trump and the Biden Administrations, etc.) are not covered.
In an intro IR class, instructors may assign readings from Foreign Affairs or Foreign Policy to cover the most recent events in IR. Thus, not necessarily a critical issue.
Mostly yes, materials are clearly written.
Possibly, a glossary can be provided at the end of book so that students can refer to definitions of main terms easily.
It's an edited textbook written by multiple authors, and not necessarily perfectly consistent in depicting/describing historical events or explaining theories.
Still, I believe it's highly consistent, and any small discrepancy across authors would not generate any confusion to students. Actually, students would even appreciate the fact that IR scholars may have distinctive views/perspectives on historical/current events in IR.
It's great to have two main parts (i.e., the basics and global issues, respectively), and 18 chapters can be easily covered in a semester by instructors' own class schedules.
I think each chapter is very well organized. Some chapters have too many subsections, but I found undergraduate students usually prefer short paragraphs with single terms/concepts to longer paragraphs with multiple terms/concepts.
I don't think it has an interface issue.
No specific error I've found.
Some authors are from the UK and they use British English, not American English. It's simply natural and not an issue at all.
I don't think it has culturally offensive parts. Still, some materials (e.g., religion, colonialism, etc.) could be better served if instructors provide/explain fundamental values of DEI in all human communities/societies as they cover culture issues in IR.
I think it's pretty much well written and organized. It can be easily adopted as an Intro IR textbook in any English-speaking college/university in the world.
Of course, it's not a perfect IR textbook, but there's no "perfect" textbook, either. Experienced instructors should be able to provide additional and supplementary readings (i.e., academic journal articles, relevant websites, etc.) via institutions' own library database that are free to students.
The book covers a very wide and comprehensive set of topics in a concise way. There are many topics that I don't typically cover in an Intro to IR course but that I could see being interesting to students (e.g. technology, food) and the short... read more
The book covers a very wide and comprehensive set of topics in a concise way. There are many topics that I don't typically cover in an Intro to IR course but that I could see being interesting to students (e.g. technology, food) and the short chapters mean the students could quickly gain insights into those topics. However, compared to other introduction to International Relations textbooks, the treatment of conflict and explanations of war is not as comprehensive as I would need for an Introduction to IR course. I think as an overview of the discipline the book would work well, but would likely need supplemental material - especially with respect to interstate war and international political economy - to fully flesh out an Intro to IR course.
The book is accurate and error-free. I also think it does a good job being unbiased. I especially appreciate the efforts to highlight ways the discipline of IR is traditionally taught from a Western perspective, why that is problematic, and to point out differing perspectives.
I believe the book is very relevant and up-to-date but not in a way that would make it obsolete. The treatment of the various topics integrates both historical and contemporary cases in a way that makes it relevant without too tied to the publication date. I think the aspects that are current could easily be updated without a complete overhaul of the book.
I appreciate the readability of the book. The author avoids jargon and presents the ideas in a way that I think undergraduates would find compelling and accessible.
Overall, the book's flow is consistent. I do wish there was a more explicit organizing principle or thread throughout the book that you often find in introductory textbooks.
Each chapter can stand alone. It will be easy to assign single chapters.
The organization is logical and given the modularity of the text, instructors who adopt the book could easily change the order if needed for their purposes.
No interface issues.
No grammatical errors that I noticed.
As mentioned above, I appreciate that the book acknowledges the ways that IR as a discipline traditionally takes a Western approach. The author takes many steps towards pointing that out and incorporating different perspectives.
I think this book will work well alongside other materials. I believe the accessibility will be refreshing for undergraduate students new to the field of IR and I appreciate the different perspectives the book brings with various authors. Because the chapters can each stand alone, I think it's a great resource for instructors to be able to assign one or a few chapters to supplement other materials in the course.
Given the inherently interdisciplinary nature of the academic field of International Relations (IR), any textbook on the subject is bound to be lacking in some aspects. Despite the daunting task it takes on, this textbook does an impressive job of... read more
Given the inherently interdisciplinary nature of the academic field of International Relations (IR), any textbook on the subject is bound to be lacking in some aspects. Despite the daunting task it takes on, this textbook does an impressive job of covering a range of topics that form the focus of scholarly inquiry in the field. Part One provides excellent, succinct overviews of the fundamentals, or “basics,” of the field, while Part Two delves into specific global issues of contemporary importance. As an introductory, “day-zero” IR text, the book provides readers with enough detail to kindle curiosity, without overburdening them with a flood of information. A minor criticism, however, is that some chapters in Part Two do not adequately tie the discussion of the issue to concerns and debates in IR.
In general, the book presents accurate accounts of the key themes in IR, from a range of perspectives. Several chapters use case studies and examples—accurately described—to illustrate complex ideas and abstract concepts. While some individual chapters might appear biased toward a particular lens (e.g., a US- or Western-centric view of the world), other chapters present contrasting perspectives, thereby according the book with a semblance of overall balance. As an introductory textbook, the book is composed of considerably simplified narratives. In a couple of rare instances, the simplified presentation might be construed as inaccurate or, at least, controversial. However, these are almost always on deeply contested issues in the field; interested readers could consult other sources for more nuanced analyses.
The textbook’s content is up to date in two ways: the topics explored in Part Two (“Global Issues”) are contemporary, pressing problems in international relations, and the case studies peppered throughout are largely drawn from recent, relevant events. Most, but not all, chapters are designed to first briefly introduce the topic or concept, followed by illustrative cases to help the readers’ comprehension. This design makes the text adaptable for updated editions, as newer cases could be added. Individual chapters also work as standalone pieces, thereby facilitating easy addition (or removal) of chapters on particular global issues, if required.
The text is generally written in a conversational tone, doing a good job of explaining the substantive content of each chapter in a simple manner. The prose is lucid and accessible. A handy “Getting Started” section prior to the first chapter guides the reader on how to navigate the text, elaborating on some of the field’s jargon—which is used sparingly—as well as on the use of academic citations. A couple of the chapters, however, appear to assume some prior subject knowledge on the part of the reader; while written clearly, the narratives in these chapters may not be as simple as a basic text would demand.
Insofar as the chapters construct the fundamental building blocks of IR, the book is internally consistent. While the chapters generally avoid jargon, the terms used reflect the scholarly language of the field. Consistency in terms of chapter format, however, is lacking. Some chapters make effective use of case studies, but others do not employ cases as an explanatory technique. Some chapters are simplified to the level of an introductory textbook, while others use formal academic prose. Some chapters tie the conversation to broader debates in IR better than others. Perhaps the biggest inconsistency is quality: some chapters, especially chapter 11 on “Protecting People,” stand out as sharp and clear—a highwater mark for pedagogical effectiveness. But not every chapter presents as concise and comprehensive a picture of the topic as might be desired.
While the text provides a good picture of the field overall, each chapter covers a distinct topic or issue and stands on its own. Further, the chapters make effective use of subheadings to present the material, while remaining coherent. Moreover, each chapter begins with a few sentences tying it to the preceding chapter(s). Individual chapters can, therefore, be easily assigned for specific course subunits, without losing any of the book’s broader context. This is especially useful given the previously noted inconsistency in quality across chapters.
The broad organization of the text into “The Basics” (Part One) and “Global Issues” (Part Two) and the sequencing of the chapters in Part One are logical. Part Two, on the other hand, can come across as a set of issues put together in no particular order. Greater effort to align the discussion within Part Two’s chapters to the basic themes elaborated in Part One might have improved the book’s organization. While the standalone quality of the chapters on global issues ensures modularity, it also serves as a dent in the book’s logical organization.
The text’s interface is remarkably simple: just plain, narrative text (with references). There are no images, charts, or boxes; rather, case studies serve as illustration. While one might fault the textbook for not having a “catchy” appearance, its simple presentation ensures minimal distraction for the reader. Indeed, the accessible and conversational, yet informative and interesting, narrative style serves to distinguish the text from other introductory IR textbooks.
There are no major presentation errors in the book. Minor errors are rare (I caught two). Aside from these exceedingly rare instances, the book has undergone a thorough editing and proofing process, thereby minimizing distraction from the content.
The book makes an effort to include a diversity of perspectives in IR, reflecting the theoretical and empirical diversity that the field is striving toward. In its relatively short chapters, it manages to introduce readers to both traditional and critical perspectives. Examples are drawn from different parts of the world. Despite these efforts, there remains much scope for further diversity: even as case illustrations from the Global South are present, Western examples still form the majority. The Eurocentric nature of the first chapter (albeit, with a degree of self-awareness from the author) can be transformed to offer a more global perspective as the book’s foundational stone. The book could have also strived for—and consequently benefitted from—greater diversity among the chapter authors, who are overwhelmingly from the West.
The book is currently the sole open-access textbook in the field of IR, and promises to expose significant numbers of prospective students of IR to an informed, academic introduction to and assessment of the field. While no basic textbook could possibly cover the vast and diverse landscape that is IR, this text makes a sincere attempt to balance breadth and depth. Future editions of the book would benefit from further diversifying the set of authors; including more contemporary, pressing global issues (such as, for example, the rise of China); and streamlining the structure of individual chapters to follow a common, pedagogically effective standard.
I would not classify this as a comprehensive text of introductory international relations. It misses some key components, the most obvious being interstate and intrastate war. My sense is that this omission emerges from its European perspective.... read more
I would not classify this as a comprehensive text of introductory international relations. It misses some key components, the most obvious being interstate and intrastate war. My sense is that this omission emerges from its European perspective. In the United States, we still include segments on the causes, conduct, and consequences of both interstate (between states) and intrastate (within state) wars in our introductory IR courses. These text's underlying theme (obvious though never explicitly stated) is that of globalization as a cause of peace.
I did not identify any factual inaccuracies, although I would have liked more frequent citations. Since I use introductory courses to introduce students to basic research and citations procedures, I like texts that are very good at this.
The authors make a concentrated effort to make this text relevant to twenty-first century politics. Unfortunately, its relevance (like the relevance of so many political science textbooks) will take a hit due to the global pandemic. Its underlying, yet subtle, theme is that of globalization, and globalization has taken a hit with the pandemic.
The authors are clear in their presentation but they have watered down their approach so much that the text lacks conceptual clarity. Many key terms (anarchy, balance of power, collective action) are introduced but in an ad-hoc fashion. I imagine that it would be difficult for students to figure out what points were important to focus on. It's easy to read, however.
In general, the text is consistent in terms of terminology and framework, although inevitably multiple authors get repetitive.
The text is quite self-referential at first. That being said, I think that the chapters on international organizations and the environment would be two excellent standalone chapters that I could assign in any of my classes. The first 3-4 chapters were too interconnected. The editor himself argues that the text should be read in order in the "Getting Started Section."
I could not understand the organization of the chapters. I believe it is because the editor did not set out a clear organizing theme for the test. As I mentioned earlier, the underlying theme seems to be that of globalization. However, this concept does not explicitly organize the text, making it difficult to grasp the main points. The current IR text I use (World Politics by Frieden, Lake, and Schultz) is far superior on this point – but they are so expensive!
The only downside is lack of index, which I presume is a costly endeavor. However, the text does not include images/charts, so the text is relatively easy to navigate.
I did not notice any typos, but the authors used informal/casual writing that I ban my undergraduates from using. For examples, the authors used the trite writing crutch: “It is important....” Several of the authors used contractions (didn't, isn't, etc.), which I forbid my students to use. I worry that assigning this text might teach bad writing habits.
There was nothing at all offensive about this book, but people should be aware that it is a European-worldview IR text.
Overall, this is a basic introductory text that to my mind holds promise. However, it requires a more explicit and systematic theoretical/conceptual framework to operate as a stand-alone text for an Introduction to IR class. I will, unfortunately, not be adopting this text as I had hoped.
The book is very comprehensive. It clearly covers all of the major themes, theories, concepts and trends in an extremely dynamic subject matters. It does well in covering traditional, enduring, and emerging issues and problems in international... read more
The book is very comprehensive. It clearly covers all of the major themes, theories, concepts and trends in an extremely dynamic subject matters. It does well in covering traditional, enduring, and emerging issues and problems in international relations. The most recent emergence of the IR world Post Trump is the addressed in this text,especially with respect to the recent threats to NATO.
For the most part, the book is accurate and error free. However, it addresses early in the book the historical existence of pre-state areas in a European context only. Some scholars might prefer to also understand the nature of government in lands, territories and empires prior to the emergence of "the state" in the context of other non-European pre-states.
The content is extremely up to date. I believe this is because book is more of a reader with many scholars focusing on a specific area of IR. Sometimes with one or two writers the content can be limited by the writers knowledge and interest. Each write in this book obviously bring considerable in depth, current knowledge about the special subject in IR. The basics Of IR are covered and most modern global Issues are addressed.
The book is written clearly and at a level that undergraduate college students should have no problems There is no assumption that the reader has been exposed to the field of IR. Every major facet of IR is covered in clearly written terms. The jargon and technical terminology used is clearly defined in language accessible to our students.
The text has a strong internal consistency. I begins with basics of defining key terms and the historical context of IR. It then focuses on helping the reader to understand the various principle and theories, structure, key actors, and international organizations both state and nonstate . Most of the historical and contemporary issues, challenges, and problems then flow in the ensuing chapters addressing major issues one at a time. .
The division of the text into smaller readings sections is fairly good. However, headings are good but most students are aided by vignettes, tables, graphs are other pictures that bridge the gap between words and pictures that help to further help to absorb the context of the readings.
The topics are presented in a very logical and clear fashion.
In this case, the book can benefit from an interface with images, charts and other displays that would further the readers understanding of the key concepts, structures, and institutions and there role in IR. Also, most books also provide a multiplicity of weblinks and other online sources throughout each chapter.
The text did not appear to have major grammatical errors.
Overall, the book is not culturally insensitive. As mentioned previously, the inclusion pre-state history that focus on Europe only, makes one wonder about areas outside of Europe. Beyond that introduction of the advent of sovereign state, the book goes on to address the international global condition satisfactorily encompassing all regions and peoples.
Obviously, I am excited about using this book to teach my class in International Relations. The writers of each chapter appear to cover all of the themes that have been traditionally a part of IR and frankly have made major steps in incorporating today's issues as such connectivity, technology and cyberissues, terrorism, religion and culture factors, climate and environmental and the emergence of new power bases in Asia and the Mideast. Of course, I have already begun researching supplemental material in the form of pictures, graphs, weblinks to supplement this outstanding reading.
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International Relations, Stephen McGlinchy, ed.
A book review for the Open Textbook Library
By Michael J. McNeal, Ph.D.
Stephen McGlinchy, et. al. provide students of international relations a broad and substantive introduction to the discipline. McGlinchy has organized the chapter contributions in a sensible and accessible manner that succeeds in covering all of the major subjects and themes of the discipline.
McGlitchy’s volume is comprehensive thematically, but certain sections would have benefited from deeper and more sustained analysis, for instance in the section on International Relations Theory. The content is accurate and given the general relevance of the text to the subjects covered the text should enjoy a fair degree of longevity.
In the first chapter, The Making of the Modern World, by Eric Ringmar, the emergence of the norm of sovereignty is examined as a foundational development toward the Westphalian system of nation-states that emerged in Europe. Ringmar then focuses upon how this system was universalized over centuries via European imperialist conquests and colonialism. He then explicates how the resulting international system that is with us today operates and persists according to the post-war institutional framework for cooperation and conflict resolution.
McGlinchy himself authors chapter two, taking up the issue of diplomacy through a number of illustrative cases. In the first case he examines efforts to regulate and prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, including the recent case of Iran. He provides an overview of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its diminution in recent years. The second case he focuses on is that of the 1979–1980 Iranian hostage crisis, the transformation of U.S. – Iranian relations in its wake and the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran in the future.
Carmen Gebhard provides an introduction to the levels of analysis method of international relations theorizing. This chapter covers the individual, group, state, and systems levels of analysis and the implication of it for comprehending international relations. She also explicates the ways in which the levels of analysis framework determines the findings of researchers working in IR, as well as how it affects and is effected by the evolving ambitions of the discipline.
The fourth chapter, which introduces international relations theory, is co-authored by Dana Gold and Stephen McGlitchy. They begin with a helpful introduction to the particular use of terms in IR theory, then proceed to define each of the “traditional” theories of liberalism and realism that have long dominated the discipline. Insufficient attention is given to the “more modern versions” of these traditions, namely neoliberalism and neorealism, which have prevailed over roughly the last four decades. They move into the so-called “middle ground” (their phrase) in assessing the consequence of the English School of IR theory, before examining Constructivism. The overview of the Critical Theory school starts with Marxism, proceeds to Feminism, moves on to Poststructural thought in IR. The chapter then employs each theoretical framework to assess by the lights of each theory, respectively, the United Nations. This is an effective exercise, but ultimately does not compensate, as it were, for what are rather insubstantial explications of the IR theories themselves.
Chapter five, written by Knut Traisbach, introduces public international law. It covers the UN system, legal treaties, intergovernmental and the global organizations that since the Second World War have provided for the international legal regime we now enjoy. It begins with the contents of international law, including the aim of preserving international order and providing for greater justice in foreign affairs between states. The chapter also contends with the laws of peace, and international humanitarian law, including the related laws of war. Traisbach traces the development of international law from its complete absence, to the patchwork of laws characterizing the nascent regime, to the semblance of global governance provided by international law today.
Shazelina Z. Abidin contributes the sixth chapter, on International Organizations. The differences between and respective functions of inter-governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations is explicated. The author begins with the UN and moves through a clear description of the forms governmental organizations take, their geographical limitations, and their various aims are examined. The purpose and function of non-governmental organizations are similarly examined. The chapter then takes up hybrid organizations examining the ways in which certain agencies cooperate with formally collaborate with governments throughout the world. Finally, the chapter concludes by illuminating the ways in which international organizations shape the world.
The remaining chapter contributions include introductions to a broad range of important but more specific subjects, including global political economy, religion and culture, global poverty and wealth, protecting people, giving people a voice, communications technology, terrorism, the environment, hunger, global security, and a concluding chapter on “doing IR” in a relevant way in the contemporary world.
In conclusion, the text McGlinchey’s introductory level International Relations volume is clear, and the writing is well edited. While it employs British spelling and phrasing in places, this should enhance the experience of American students for whom it is unfamiliar. The book’s chapters, while authored by different contributors, are consistently edited, giving the text a high degree of consistency. The respective sections of the text can also be assigned separately. The organization, structure, and flow of the text are effective, and assigning the sections in a different order would not be detrimental to this. Finally, the text is sufficiently sensitive in cultural terms, and should present no issues to educators who assign it.
Overall, very comprehensive for an introductory textbook. In my introductory course, I tend to delve a bit deeper into a number of issues, but this textbook overall provides a good framework to build those discussions off of. Still, I'd have liked... read more
Overall, very comprehensive for an introductory textbook. In my introductory course, I tend to delve a bit deeper into a number of issues, but this textbook overall provides a good framework to build those discussions off of. Still, I'd have liked to see at least a short discussion on the changing nature of global finance in the global political economy chapter- there is a discussion of trade and multinationals which easily transitions into course discussion of GATT/WTO, and FDI, but no mention of sovereign credit or debt, which is by far the most commonly access form of global capital.
I found no errors related to accuracy in the book. It was very well researched and proofed.
While some of the specific data will need to be updated (references to the debt/deficit as it stands now, etc), overall the theoretical discussion and the overall structure of the book should enable extended longevity. The updates should be fairly straightforward to implement.
Textbooks are never the most gripping reading, but even with advanced knowledge of the material in the book I found it fairly compelling, particularly because of the focus in the second half of the book on global issues. The second half takes the book from "good" to "fantastic"
The book is well put together and I found no issues in regards to consistency in terminology or framework.
Overall, each chapter is well written, and each chapter and section has a number of natural breaks. However, the book is written, as it says in the intro, not to be broken up or only have selections assigned. Students should use the book to progress through, which limits the ability of the instructor to structure the course prioritizing different information.
Same as above comment in "modularity". Overall, well done, but not much freedom to use a chapter here or there or rearrange chapters to fit the desired flow of the course.
There were no navigation problems (the table of contents was accurate). There were no images or charts or other display features, however.
I found no grammatical errors.
The book was written by a large number of individuals with different backgrounds and identities, and it shows: I found no examples that were culturally insensitive or offensive, and found the inclusiveness of the viewpoints brought by the variety of authors to be refreshing.
I look forward to adopting this book in the Spring- while there are some issues with the ability to design a course around it (ie the text itself isn't flexible to starting from a different point than the text does), I believe it is worth the effort. We'll see exactly how much effort is required when I begin developing the syllabus for next semester. While the preface indicates that there are "no boxes, charts, pictures, or exercises" because "these things can be a distraction", I find that in particular to be counterproductive. The overall narrative is engaging, but including visualizations only helps to keep that engagement, particularly with undergraduates. Additionally, visualizations offer an opportunity to discuss how data is used, often erroneously, by the media or government. Being able to point to good visualizations (charts, in particular) in the textbook would be much more of a strength than a distraction.
In all, I like this book, but it could have been made better with a few tweaks. For my purposes, the book is probably about 4.75/5 stars- as good or better than many existing textbooks, and close enough to the best textbooks to justify the switch given my desire to adopt open access educational resources.
A wide range of topics are covered. However, there is no index or glossary. read more
A wide range of topics are covered. However, there is no index or glossary.
I didn't find any factual errors.
Several chapters reference current events heavily, which will need updates soon. However, updates should be relatively easy.
The text is very accessible to beginners, although a glossary would really help.
The frameworks used by the contributors clearly vary a lot. It would be great if at least the issue chapters in the second part are written under the same framework.
Helpful subheadings throughout. Easy to be divided into smaller reading sections that can be moved around as the instructor sees fit.
Contributors in Part One tried to present the logic behind the flow from one chapter to another, but it is still odd to put a chapter on Diplomacy right after chapter 1 and before the chapter introducing the main actors of IR.
There were no major interface issues other than there are no images/charts. It would help if each chapter is followed with its own references, rather than putting all the references at the end of the book.
Many perspectives are included when issues are being examined. However, it could have included more non-Western perspectives/examples.
I can see myself including some chapters as supplemental reading material to my intro to IR course. However, using it as the primary text for college students in the United States would require a lot of extra work (developing a glossary,discussion questions, finding the images,charts, figures going along with the text, etc.).
The first section of the book, "The Basics," did not cover the basics in as much detail as I would have liked to see. The first 4 chapters are really foundational for the rest of IR and the rest of the topics in the book, but the information is... read more
The first section of the book, "The Basics," did not cover the basics in as much detail as I would have liked to see. The first 4 chapters are really foundational for the rest of IR and the rest of the topics in the book, but the information is very cursory. For example, the IR theories are not covered in as much depth as they should be, and the author of that chapter seems to be somewhat dismissive of them. Also, there is no glossary. Each chapter should really end with its own list of sources cited, rather than having one long references section at the end of the book. I would also like to have seen each chapter end with a brief Further Reading list for students interested in the topic of the chapter, particularly since the main chapters in the first section are quite short.
I did not see any problems with errors or bias.
IR is a discipline that is always changing. Perhaps old information does not become obsolete, but new developments are always happening. The authors of this book did well writing about the topics in a way that it will not become obsolete within a short period of time.
Obviously, with any edited volume, the tone of the book will change from chapter to chapter based on each author's writing style. I found some of the chapters to be written in an incredibly simple way, beneficial for introductory students. Other chapters were not as accessible.
Again, it is difficult with an edited volume to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of terminology, but the editor did a great job of ensuring that the terms and ideas were used consistently across the chapters. This was particularly true since a key theme of the book is that the ideas of IR being international and focused on states is somewhat outdated, shifting to adopt terms such as global, globalisation, and non-state actors.
Each chapter was well laid out with subheadings.
Some of the topics are presented in an odd order and appeared repetitive across chapters. For example, chapter 2 was really the first substantive chapter in the work, and it was on diplomacy. It would have been nice to get some more introductory concepts from some of the later chapters such as levels of analysis and actors before addressing one particular foreign policy tool. Additionally, the the subject of diplomacy itself was not explained very well or in much depth before the chapter went into quite a bit of detail covering nuclear proliferation, which seems to me to be something that should be discussed after basic concepts are covered.
The interface was fine. There were no interface issues or distractions. Very simple text and outline.
I saw no grammatical errors.
I saw no problems with cultural insensitivity or exclusion of any group. To the contrary, most chapters went out of their way to acknowledge that the traditional conceptions governing IR arose out of the Western tradition.
I wish the first four chapters of the basics section were covered much better. It seems that the editor chose breath over depth. In many ways, this is appropriate for an introductory class, but not when the basic themes and concepts are covered in less detail than the issues. The chapters in Part 2, "Global Issues," were covered in much greater detail. I don't find many of the chapters to be particularly useful for my purposes, but some other instructors might. I did particularly like Chapter 12, "Connectivity, Communications, and Technology," because it discusses things like the internet and internet commerce that relate directly to students' lives. Some of the other chapters did not seem as relevant and might have been better left to a textbook for a higher level IR course.
This book covers an impressive range of topics. However, there is not much on IR theory. read more
This book covers an impressive range of topics. However, there is not much on IR theory.
I did not see any factual errors. There is some non-standard use of concepts. For example, the chapter on diplomacy calls the reaction of common alarm in response to the development of nuclear weapons in a previously non-nuclear state a norm (p.25). The more common but contested interpretation is that this is interest in security. This is an important and fruitful area of debate but the chapter does not go into it and there is not enough theory in the book for students to recognize and make sense of it.
It is mostly up to date and relevant. More focused and comprehensive discussion of 20th century cases, especially WWI, WWII, and the Cold War, would be useful, at least for American students. Also, I would expect more on the war/crisis in Ukraine (there is no mention of Maidan at all) and contemporary relations with Russia, which are addressed cursorily and from a very obviously Euro-Atlantic security community perspective.
I think it is very student friendly.
I found it consistent.
This is a strong point. Because of the topical focus, instructors can easily integrate the various chapters into their course.
Organization/structure/flow are fine.
It would be nice if clicking on a chapter title or page number in the table of contents took you to the chapter.
The book tries admirably to include many perspectives and address issues of global relevance. I agree that it reflects views more common among European scholars than in the USA.
I will certainly include some of these chapters as supplements to my intro to IR course. However, there is not enough theory to be my main text.
While comprehensiveness is not achievable, this edited volume covers main areas of the field. read more
While comprehensiveness is not achievable, this edited volume covers main areas of the field.
This is of course always depends on one's perspective but from what I could tell, it seems accurate.
Seems mostly fine although some chapters reference current events, which will be outdated at some point.
There is some referring back to other chapters and topics but there could be more given that it is a textbook.
Yes, it is.
Dozen of ways to do it but it follows a somewhat standard approach. From broader and theoretical debates to issue areas.
No issues that I could detect.
It has a somewhat Eurocentric bend as there is little on colonialism or non-western examples or approaches.
No index but you can search as it is available electronically. A glossary might be helpful.
The textbook is comprehensive in range of concepts it covers. Some topics, however, are dispersed throughout various chapters and could benefit from being looked at in a single section/chapter. The textbook does not provide and index or glossary,... read more
The textbook is comprehensive in range of concepts it covers. Some topics, however, are dispersed throughout various chapters and could benefit from being looked at in a single section/chapter. The textbook does not provide and index or glossary, but since it is available electronically looking up terms and words of interest is of no difficulty.
The content appears accurate. No major inaccuracies were detected as of this review.
The textbook is up-to-date. The events, concepts and examples used in it are durable enough that it will not need to be regularly updated. Certainly not on an annual basis. The emphasis on concepts rather than smaller current event make it last for several years before needing re-edition.
The textbook reads easily. It flows from chapter to chapter and theme to theme rather seamlessly. It would not be a difficult read for an undergraduate level course.
The textbook has a decent consistency.
As it stands the textbook would require some effort to divide into readable chunks for assignments. I would organize is differently in terms of the chapters. However, when combining various chapters from parts 1 and 2, the reading assignments are coherent. For example, the chapters 8 and 10 cover topics that are usually taught in sequence. Thus, most likely they should be assigned as a combined reading block.
Organization is the one area where I would recommend re-work. As it stands the textbook is rather fragmented. Many chapters could be combined for a more streamlined presentation. Bringing down the number of chapters would also help in fitting the text into a standard 15 week semester long classes (at least in North America).
The textbook could benefit from some graphic representations. Since the undergraduate audience is the primary target, pictures, graphics and other visual representations would significantly increase the textbooks appeal. It would also enhance its teaching ability.
No major comments. As of this reviewing no major grammatical issues detected.
The textbook presents a very euro (western) centric view of the international relations. This is more telling of the state of the IR curriculum, rather than the critique of the text per se.
This is a decent textbook. It accomplishes most IR requirements in an open format. As such it is a valuable resources in instances when textbook costs are a prohibitive barrier.
International Relations is an edited volume that attempts to cover all of the common themes in an introduction to IR course. On this, it does relatively well. It follows the basic format that most intro texts cover-- it starts with big themes and... read more
International Relations is an edited volume that attempts to cover all of the common themes in an introduction to IR course. On this, it does relatively well. It follows the basic format that most intro texts cover-- it starts with big themes and theories, and then proceeds to contemporary issues. The text lacks a glossary, boldfaced terms, and an index. These three omissions lessen the usability of the text.
The accuracy varies from chapter to chapter. One thing I'd like to see is more attention to key concepts in the first few chapters. The book lacks clearly written definitions of terms (e.g. state). Readers can infer definitions from context, however. This is good for a smarter, more experienced reader, but it's a problem for most novice readers. One thing I liked about a few of the chapters was the attempt to incorporate new and non-traditional theories of IR, e.g. critical theory.
A few of the chapters reference current events or contemporary individuals, and thus will appear dated soon. Other elements are deeply historical and unlikely to need updating anytime soon. Some teaching cases embedded in the chapters were sufficiently historical, so they are won't need updating anytime soon.
Again, the quality of the prose varies from chapter to chapter. There are some stylistic differences (e.g. first person in some, third in others) and more than half of the chapter read like they're transcripts of lectures. In this sense, I don't think that the book is written in a way that's appropriate for a first-year student being introduced to a topic. I understand that IR is interdisciplinary and rooted in the arts and humanities, but I also think that IR can be presented in a straight-forward and clinical way that makes reading and writing on the topic simple and accessible. Starting with boldfaced terms and a glossary would be good. Adding discussion questions at the end of each chapter, as well as a summary of key themes, would greatly help the reader. I suppose that faculty members adopting this book can create their own glossaries and materials. Let's face it, though-- who has time for that?
Some of the chapters reference concepts and theories in prior chapters. Not all do, however. I think the book would be better if there was a more concerted effort to integrate.
This text can be divided up according to one's own schedule.
The organization of this text is nearly identical to all standard IR texts. It begins with some history, quickly moves to theory, and then surveys issues. My chief complaint-- and this is true of most IR texts-- is that the latter third (issues) rarely refers back to concepts and theories. It sends the message to the reader that "here are these theories, let me show you how irrelevant they are with the rest of this book.) At best, this organization is a missed opportunity. At worst, it works against the basic goal of the course-- to show that the scholarly study of IR is useful.
There were no major issues. One minor observation is that the left justification seemed to be in different spots from one page to the next. I'm not sure if this is normal for an e-book. It didn't bother me.
The grammar is fine. There are some basic style issues for some of the authors, though. Some authors rely on run-on sentences and page-long paragraphs. Both of these stylistic errors make it more difficult for students to read and comprehend the text.
I didn't see anything offensive, but I think there could've been more attention paid to non-Western examples. The last chapter was a bit weird, especially the bit about England's legacy for world affairs today.
I think that this book is a good alternative if you're looking to assign a free book. There are definitely better books out there, though. Students learn best when their texts have clear, simple, and accessible organization and prose. This book is, for all intents and purposes, a series of smart introductory lectures. I might not be the smartest guy, but I think that I already deliver smart introductory lectures. So, when I'm looking for a book, I'm looking for a reference guide/companion to my lectures. This book is not that.
This edited volume provides a comprehensive yet not so well integrated coverage of the issues and theories that define the international relations field today. Although the book lacks an index, as the editor noted as being too costly to compile. read more
This edited volume provides a comprehensive yet not so well integrated coverage of the issues and theories that define the international relations field today. Although the book lacks an index, as the editor noted as being too costly to compile.
Book provides often times an objective view of global politics, but on issues there have been instances where some authors refer to their personal experiences as a way to open up debates and introduce paradoxes which in some ways impact the overall bias on the issues introduced.
The edited volume captures the relevant debates in IR and provides an overall view of open topics in a manner to insuniate longer term discussion. updates for that matter would be rather easy in the coming editions.
terminology is very clear and almost too simplistic.
it would have helped if the editor pushed the contributing authors to adapt a more nuanced language for their chapters.
the edited volume definitely deserves a more consistent narrative across chapters. As is chapters do not necessarily follow each other. The language is inconsistent and calls for a major revision to keep the use of terminology and frameworks the same across all the chapters.
each chapter of the book could be assigned separately as part of the weekly readings of an intro to IR theory course. in that respect it accomplishes a decent job; however, in terms of complementarity of chapters with one and another, it clearly fails.
organization of the edited volume seems to be all over the place.
there is a number of redundant discussions along with a lack of integration of different topics. it does not flow very well.
the edited volume obviously needs more charts, figures along with images.
if the idea is to attract the attention of younger college age readers, it fails to achieve that.
no problems with the grammar.
Yet another compilation of IR chapters from a very western oriented set of authors. There have not been a lot if any mention of contributions of non-western thinkers and scholars to the field of IR. As is such works contribute to the domination of western thinking in international politics.
The book is presented as a beginner's guide to International Relations and in this way is comprehensive in its presentation of basic issues relevant to the subject. But the book refuses to use "buzzwords" like "globalization" because the authors... read more
The book is presented as a beginner's guide to International Relations and in this way is comprehensive in its presentation of basic issues relevant to the subject. But the book refuses to use "buzzwords" like "globalization" because the authors do not want to get "bogged down in big debates" around complex terms. This seems like an inappropriate stance, as many beginners may be studying IR precisely to better understand such words. The book does not have an index. It has a bibliography, but throughout the text, is uses very few references, even when it seems obvious that the reader would like to know more.
The book appears accurate, but with so few citations, it's quite hard to know the perspectives of the authors of each chapter. It is not unbiased; the book is extremely Eurocentric. Countries in the global south are presented as object of diplomacy, or as the sites of problems like famine, rather than presented as active participants in globalization (I guess if they'd be willing the use the term globalization, they could have avoided this problem).
The book seems up to date, including citations from 2015. Because the text is so theory heavy and includes almost no examples, this might prevent it from seeming out of date quickly. At the same time, the second half ("global issues") that focuses on contemporary problems, would have to be updated quite regularly (i.e. examples like the environment, global food crisis). But the book should do this, because students need to be presented with examples of how IR works and how we can respond to these global issues.
The book is written clearly, if dispassionately. There is little jargon, as was the author's intention, but this makes the writing seem even too simplistic for college students. Why should we not be asking them to understand challenging terms? The book's introduction also gives recommendations for how to read, which, if idealistic, could be useful to college freshmen who are not used to reading long texts. Additionally, the authors state clearly that the chapters should not be "cherry picked" and must be read one after another--I did not find this to be the case and had no issues jumping around.
The book is very consistent. Each chapter looks quite the same, although several of the "global issues" chapters are quite short. Again, the book is meant to be read completely linearly, so this consistency was a priority for the authors.
The book presents itself as NOT predisposed to modularity. As a reader in the field, it seemed to me that this was a little strict and that a good professor could easily reorganize the book in order to, for example, assign an "issues" chapter along with a "basics" chapter in order to illustrate some points. But the authors do not encourage any sort of creativity so such a task would require significant extra work on the instructor's part.
The book is clearly organized based on the priorities of the authors: this means that it is theory heavy up front, features one completely inadequate chapter about "culture," and then presents a series of "issues" to bring IR into the real world. The book fits clearly into the authors' pedagogy.
There are no images or any other illustrations. This is another part of the authors' pedagogy in which they find such things distracting. There are no interface errors, but the book is entirely page after page of similar-looking text. This is ridiculously boring and very far out of touch from how students actually learn.
I did not note any errors.
The book is very Eurocentric and is focused on the diplomatic world through the eyes of Europe and North America. This is an archaic way of teaching and learning about the world. There is one chapter about "culture and religion" (which, first of all, each deserve there own attention) which tells us nothing about how cultural diversity impacts international relations. The "global issues" section is extremely weak. For instance, the chapter on the environment focuses almost exclusively on international agreements, but not on differential expectations for countries, debates around these policies, and the real-life impacts of climate change and environmental policy. This book is not culturally sensitive because there are no people in it. It's as if the authors see IR as outside of the realm of human relevance.
Since there are no images or suggestions for discussion or further reading, a faculty member using this book would have to do a huge amount of work to make the text engaging for students. The instructor would have to find creative ways to do any practical exercises, and this seems like way too much work when much better texts exist. This book is not worth using just because it is open access. Why on earth would you want to teach IR without thinking about any examples and without getting students thinking about what policies have what impact on the people living around the world?
The book at least touches on all of the subjects that I routinely cover in my introductory course on international relations, but the coverage of the subjects vary greatly. I thought the chapters on the environment and food security were... read more
The book at least touches on all of the subjects that I routinely cover in my introductory course on international relations, but the coverage of the subjects vary greatly. I thought the chapters on the environment and food security were particularly well-developed, but other chapters like the one on connectivity, communications, and technology would have been made stronger through more details or applied examples. The historical context given to today's political world is also a bit shaky. Some historical developments are more thoroughly explained than others, and students using this book might find it confusing that some background material is spread across chapters. Also noteworthy, the book contains no finding aids (index, glossary) which would make it cumbersome to students trying to use this in an introductory course.
I found the book to be accurate on the topics it covers.
It was not clear to me whether or how the publishers plan to update this text. This is particularly key for an international relations textbook with such a heavy emphasis on current world affairs. Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that the book is less than a year old, some sections are already debatably in need of updating (particularly Ch. 17, as it relates to U.S. foreign policy). While the basic information conveyed in each chapter will remain relevant, I would want to know the editor's intentions for updating the text before implementing it in a course.
The text is written in a very accessible way, and the various authors do a good job of explaining terms fully in the text.
The chapters are consistent in length and style.
The chapter structure is well-defined and appropriate for an introductory course. Potential users may want to be aware that the text is designed to flow in a certain order, so in most cases rearranging chapters out-of-order would not be advised.
The book is mostly well structured. I did have some issue with some concepts or historical developments being explained out-of-order or across multiple chapters, for example the history and development of the UN--which is spread across chapters 4, 5, and 6--and the Cold War, which is discussed piecemeal in multiple chapters.
My biggest issue with the interface is that there is none. The book contains no links, pictures, charts, graphs, or visuals at all--even where the addition of these materials could help students using the text. I appreciate the editor's note indicating that these items were sacrificed in order to produce a free text, but I feel there were some extremely low- or no-cost ways of enhancing the text that would have been beneficial. Even having authors use bold font for key terms would facilitate student learning. Authors might also have been encouraged to recommend further reading or links to online resources related to each chapter. Combined with the lack of finding aids, I think the lack of interface would frustrate some students.
I did not find any obvious grammatical errors in the text.
The text is largely inclusive, and the individual authors are representative of the global nature of the discipline.
Overall, my impression of this book was that it could not be a standalone text for an introductory, college-level IR course. The professor using this text would almost certainly need to supplement it with additional readings, and would probably also need to put a good deal of thought into designing exercises, lectures, tests, and study guides based on this material. Most importantly, I personally would not want to adopt this textbook without understanding the plan for updating it, as some of this information will likely seem outdated or obsolete in the next 5-10 years.
Table of Contents
Part One - The Basics
- 1. The Making Of The Modern World
- 2. Diplomacy
- 3. One World, Many Actors
- 4. International Relations Theory
- 5. International Law
- 6. International Organisations
- 7. Global Civil Society
- 8. Global Political Economy
- 9. Religion And Culture
Part Two - Global Issues
- 10. Global Poverty And Wealth
- 11. Protecting People
- 12. Connectivity, Communications And Technology
- 13. Voices Of The People
- 14. Transnational Terrorism
- 15. The Environment
- 16. Feeding The World
- 17. Managing Global Security Beyond ‘Pax Americana'
- 18. Crossings And Candles
ReferencesNote On Indexing
About the Book
This book is designed to be a ‘Day 0' introduction to International Relations. As a beginner's guide, it has been structured to condense the most important information into the smallest space and present that information in the most accessible way. The chapters offer a broad sweep of the basic components of International Relations and the key contemporary issues that concern the discipline. The narrative arc forms a complete circle, taking readers from no knowledge to competency. The journey starts by examining how the international system was formed and ends by reflecting that International Relations is always adapting to events and is therefore a never-ending journey of discovery. Unlike typical textbooks, there are no boxes, charts, pictures or exercises. The philosophy underpinning this book is that these things can be a distraction. This book, like others in the E-IR Foundations series, is designed to capture attention with an engaging narrative. The chapters are short, with simple paragraphs and clear sentences placing the reader inside crucial issues and debates so they can understand how things work, and where they fit in the world around them.
About the Contributors
Stephen McGlinchey is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of the West of England, Bristol and Editor-in-Chief of E-International Relations. His main research interests are in US-Iran relations during the Cold War.