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War and Change in World Politics Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0521273763 ISBN-10: 0521273765 Edition: Reprint

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War and Change in World Politics + After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton Classic Editions) + Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge Studies in International Relations)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (November 25, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521273765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521273763
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


' ... Professor Gilpin provides in place of the tedious and vacuous theorizing common in the literature an intelligent and intellectually stimulating, if speculative, study of major issues in world politics. As such it can be highly recommended.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

'Gilpin has read widely and thoughtfully, and future analysis of big changes in the world political system will find that he has asked important questions and given provisional answers.' Political Science Quarterly

Book Description

Using history, sociology and economic theory to uncover the forces behind change in the world order, Gilpin demonstrates how and why the great powers and the growing powers interact in the contemporary world.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Johnny E. Wilson Jr. on May 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
For many years I have relied on War & Change in World Politics as a structural guide to examining international relations. Gilpin's classic work provides, both clear historical and theoretical support to augument his argument. His thoughts reside firmly in the realist tradition, but adds to the richness of that paradigm through focusing on transition. Gilpin correctly argued that,"Throughout history a principal objective of states has been the conquest of territory in order to advance economic, security, and other interests. Whether by means of imperialist subjugation of one people by another or by annexation of contiguous territory, states in all ages have sought to enlarge their control over territory and, by implication, their control over the international system. For this reason, a theory of international political change must of necessity also be a theory of imperialism and political integration.(23) The firm goal of Gilpin is to creat a theory of the transition of power relations. I believe that he has provided the initial steps through his courageous attempt to provide framework developing a theory of change. I first read War & Change while residing in Western and Central Europe, from 1989 to 1999. I was at the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, The Gulf War, and witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany. Gilpin's book provided structure to my studies and my personal search for understanding of the dynamics of these profound changes in societies. I evaluated theories of economism, based on American capitalism versus European and Japanese socialism and the belief in a new tri-polar order and found them theoretically broken down in War & Change.Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Although somewhat dated, "War and Change" is one of the great books in International Relations Theory. Robert Gilpin puts forth the theory that would inspire Paul Kennedy to write his "Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" years later. Gilpin's theory is basically this: powerful states in the international system tend to spend a lot to maintain its militar proeminance. But while it is wasting a lot of money to enforce the "rules" of the system, revisionist powers can compete with less costs. When there is a "de facto" balance between these powers, there's an hegemonic war that settles it straight. And then, there is a new cycle. "War and Change" is really worth reading and it shows a different position in the "neorealist" debate inaugurated by Kenneth Waltz in his "Theory of International Politics". A final advice: just read it if you're a bit aquainted with IR theory, or else it'll be pretty boring.
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By A Arnold on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to read this book for class. The sections on the decline of empire/hegemony are essential to understanding why the United States is doomed to fail. The author explains that the cost of maintaining empire eventually bankrupt the empire and a new hegemony replaces the old one. Although this can be done peacefully (collapse of USSR), the historical norm is total war between the hegemony/empire and the new challengers.

The chances of U.S. citizens electing somebody like Ron Paul who will drastically scale back overseas forces and end preemtive wars is not good. More likely than not status quo politicians like Bush, Obama, Romney, etc will get elected and continue to maintain America's 900 military bases in 130 countries; start new wars and expand old ones; spend vast sums of money on expensive military research and projects. According to Gilpin's chapter on empire decline, this means that the U.S. will eventually bankrupt itself and there will be a change in the international system. Hopefully the change will be peaceful (U.S. voluntarily bringing forces home as Ron Paul advocates), and not violent (U.S. goes to war with China, Russia or another rising power that threatens U.S. hegemony).
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Format: Paperback
This classic book from the early 1980's was written by Robert Gilpin from the Realist school of international relations. Seeing nation states as actors trying to maximize their own power, the realist school looked at nation states as the rough equivalent of rational actors in a theoretical economic paradigm.

At a theoretical level, this book is helpful for understanding inter-relationships between nation states and how changes which disrupt the balance of power between nation-states can create the potential for conflict and outright war. Written during the cold war, when nation-states were the primary actors in world affairs, it doesn't address the non-state actors and their role in international affairs and how they complicate what interests a nation-state seeks to maximize.

Gilpin puts a great deal of emphasis on the role nation-states play in gaining and maintaining hegemony over other nation-states. Gilpin provides the classical balance of power analysis of the cold-war years and codifies the paradigm in a well ordered fashion.

There has been alot of water under the bridge in foreign relations since Gilpin produced this monumental book. Despite it's limitations, much of his analysis is useful today.
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