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The International Relations of Middle-earth: Learning from The Lord of the Rings Paperback – April 26, 2012


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The International Relations of Middle-earth: Learning from The Lord of the Rings + An Introduction to International Relations Theory: Perspectives and Themes + Essentials of International Relations (Sixth Edition)
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Abigail E. Ruane, PhD,  is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Human Rights at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Patrick James is Dornsife Dean's Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press (April 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472051822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472051823
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Zac on May 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
I used this book for my undergrad IR Theory class and it was great. It makes dense IR theory much lighter and easier to digest by applying it to Lord of the Rings characters. Although this application may seem comical, the book is very extensive and it really does help to understand and remember the theories. I highly recommend it for anyone delving into IR theory, or for that matter any LOTR fan who wants a new, interesting view on the trilogy.
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Format: Paperback
I've never really thought of Tolkien’s living trees, the Hurons, as having a Marxist frame of analysis, or considered the Elf-lord Elrond as a Kantian, but those are several of the insights offered in this volume that serves as an introduction to the study of International Relations (IR) using the world of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as its focus. The idea of applying the lens of a scholarly discipline to a world of fiction is somewhat novel, but increasing common, as the numerous titles in the “Pop Culture and Philosophy” series attests. In this book, the authors are providing a basic introduction to current IR theory and approaches, and then applying and illustrating them with examples from the story of LOTR. It’s an interesting idea, that sort of works. In several cases I felt that they were stretching a bit to find a workable literary example for their points, but then again, real world history / currents events are not always amenable to the framework of the various IR approaches.

So, who might be interested in this book? My assumption is that this book is designed to become part of the syllabi of university-level intro to IR courses. Choosing Middle-earth as the subject rather than actual historical events might appeal to undergrads with a greater knowledge of fictional worlds--especially those that have had highly successful movies trilogies produced about them. This is a relatively scholarly book, not written with casual readers, or even Tolkien enthusiasts, in mind. While there are the occasional insight about Tolkien’s world to be gleaned here, readers interested in learning more about the LOTR are likely to be disappointed. Middle-earth is used to illuminate the study of international relations, rather than the IR theory offering revelations about the stories. I’m clearly shelving this book in the IR section of my library rather than with my Tolkien books.
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