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Theories of International Politics and Zombies Paperback – January 23, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Drezner (All Politics Is Global), a Tufts professor of international politics, comes up with an intriguing intellectual conceit to explain various schools of international political theory. He imagines a world overrun with zombies and considers the likely responses of national governments, the U.N. and other international organizations, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs). He examines possible reactions through the lens of seven theoretical approaches including realpolitik, liberalism, neoconservatism, and bureaucratic politics. After considering the efficacy of each approach in combating the zombie hordes, Drezner weighs their flaws and concludes that given the limitations of human reason and a highly fluid situation, all theories are "more circumscribed than international relations theorists proclaim in their scholarship." Drezner is fascinated with zombies—he's seen all the movies and read the books—and writes with clarity, insight, and wit. For example, he notes that as zombies bite humans, who then become zombies, human-zombie "alliances of convenience" might be possible," that NGOs would arise "devoted to the defense of the living dead," and that neoconservative "shock-and-awe" military approaches probably wouldn't impress the undead zombies. This slim book is an imaginative and very helpful way to introduce its subject—who knew international relations could be this much fun? (Mar.)
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Review


Honorable Mention for the 2011 PROSE Award in Government & Politics, Association of American Publishers


"Drezner . . . comes up with an intriguing intellectual conceit to explain various schools of international political theory. He imagines a world overrun with zombies and considers the likely responses of national governments, the U.N and other international organizations, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs). . . . This slim book is an imaginative and very helpful way to introduce its subject--who knew international relations could be this much fun?"--Publishers Weekly

"A light, breezy volume, TIPZ is a valuable primer in international relations theory for laypeople, and thank God for that--it's been a long time coming. But Drezner's real genius is that he's written a stinging postmodern critique of IR theorists themselves, applying the full force of their structured reasoning to topics as diverse as Michael Jackson's breakdancing zombies, Peter Jackson's lesser film canon, and romantic zombie comedy flicks--'rom zom coms,' as he puts it. It's both a pedagogical text and a lampoon of pedagogy. . . . Theories of International Politics and Zombies is one hell of an important tome."--Adam Weinstein, Mother Jones

"Besides offering a condensed and accessible survey of how various schools of international-relations theory would respond, he reviews the implications of a zombie crisis for a nation's internal politics and its psychosocial impact. He also considers the role of standard bureaucratic dynamics on managing the effects of relentless insurgency by the living dead. While a quick and entertaining read, Theories of International Politics and Zombies is a useful introductory textbook on public policy--as well as a definitive monograph for the field of zombie studies."--Scott McLemee, Inside HigherEd

"If the dynamics of international politics have conventionally been understood in terms of the quick and the dead, Daniel Drezner invites us to consider another way of being--undead, or 'differently animated.' This ontological category emerges from the world of popular culture in which the 'zombie canon has a distinctive place. In drawing together the interpretation of popular culture and international politics, Drezner provides much food for thought--the food in this case being human flesh, of which zombies are notoriously fond. . . . [D]rezner elucidates the often-arcane world of international theory in an interesting and highly amusing way. He also shows how close the relationship between politics and popular culture is, how the latter can convey social and political critique in the most unlikely ways, and why satire remains such an important form of that critique."--Stephanie Lawson, Times Higher Education

"Juxtaposing George A. Romero with Donald Rumsfeld to make real-world 'predictions,' Daniel W. Drezner's Theories of International Politics & Zombies . . . explores feasible scenarios for the political stage contrasted with an undead threat, the objective being to render just 'how valid--or how rotten--such scenarios might be.' No man seems better qualified for this exposé than Drezner, whose bio credentials list him as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Zombie Research Society."--Fangoria

"In addition to wargaming various zombie scenarios, Drezner's book serves as an entertaining primer on the distinctions between several theories of international politics."--Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason

"In the end, Drezner's task is to lead a tour through academic Graceland, pretending political theories are serious business, while mocking academia's obsession with political theories, which any person with common sense knows too often fail to predict real world outcomes. A political science book about zombies is funny not because of the zombies, but because political science treats them like everything else. The juxtaposition of the two brings out the best in both."--Jessica Palmer, Biophemera blog

"[Theories] of International Politics and Zombies is clever, nicely dissecting the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and offering observations about how, for instance, constructivists should destroy all previously published-zombie-apocalypse movies, lest people actually act as selfishly as most characters in those films do. While most zombie narratives start after government has failed, Drezner is far more optimistic that through cooperation, humanity would survive a zombie outbreak."--Samantha Nelson, A.V. Club

"Smart, funny, creative, and thought provoking, Theories of International Politics and Zombies is a worthwhile and engaging read, and is essential reading for all political leaders if the fight against zombies is ever to be won."--Sara Yasin, LSE British Politics and Policy blog

"[A]n amusing primer on IR theory, a comprehensible introduction to the tenets of liberalism, neo-conservatism, social constructivism, bureaucratic politics, realpolitik, and insight into their plausible responses to a new type of threat."--San Francisco Book Review

"It's attractive quality is, of course, its flesh-eating meta-theme, but the work is successful for its clear, comparative introduction to international relations theory. . . . Drezner's work frequently leaves the reader hungry for more discussion."--Choice

"Overall, this is an accessible first introduction for students unfamiliar with the philosophical side of international relations."--Christopher Housenick, Political Studies Review

"Drezner's easy prose and simple explanations will make his book a favorite among college students, and academics will appreciate his consistent references and bibliography. The simplicity of the book and the theme of zombies will likely make international politics less intimidating and more accessible to beginners."--Anna B.Creagh, Leonardo Reviews
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; unknown edition (January 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691147833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691147833
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 4.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Drezner's quirky new book examines several theories of international politics and how they would apply to global zombie crisis. In this way this book is an easy and fun introduction to international politics, but readers looking for a more serious introduction and exposition of international politics should look elsewhere. This is not to say that Drezner's book is not a fine exposition for what it is, however; theories of realpolitik, liberalism, neo-conservatism, social constructivism, are all covered nicely given the framework upon which Drezner works (i.e. how would a neoconservative foreign policy respond to a global zombie outbreak). For example, realist theories would predict that nations would act in their own interests, respectively, while liberal theories would predict that nations would cooperate to some degree. Drezner also discusses how domestic and bureaucratic politics would respond to a dawn of the dead scenario.

The book's style is scholarly yet witty; here's the author discussing the "theory" that zombies are not biologically, but socially, inclined to feast on human brains: "Given the tendency of zombies to travel in packs and mobs, first-image theorists would hypothesize that this decision to eat humans is a classic case of groupthink, the tendency for individuals to prioritize group consensus over a thorough vetting of alternative ideas and proposals.... Based on their grouping behavior, it could be argued that the living dead care the most about reaching a consensus among themselves about their social purpose." Despite its entertaining subject matter, this book is not a "for dummies" textbook; for example, if you have never encountered a payoff matrix and are unfamiliar with basic game theory, you will quickly become frustrated (but what better way to learn than through a "-and Zombies" book?).
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Format: Paperback
Movies like "Zombieland and "Shaun of the Dead" have given us guidance on how to combat zombies in person. But until now no one has bothered to prepare us for the foreign policy debate that would ensue as a result of a zombie invasion. Thanks to Daniel Drezner, I now know which side of the foreign policy debate I'd be on when the zombies are on the march.

This book is a lot of fun! With an easy going and lighthearted approach, this book introduces readers to how the various foreign policy ideologies would deal with evil doers. It is a great read for any political junkie.
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This book is by no means an all-inclusive account of the ways in which international political theory can approach the coming zombie epidemic, but it's a damn good one. Drezner has fun with the topic while remaining grounded in the current most popular theories of International Relations. In addition to providing key insights into how they would view an undead onslaught and their possible policy prescriptions, this book is also quite an entertaining introduction to theoretical International Relations for those just diving into the field. I wouldn't be surprised if this book showed up as pre-reading for intro IR courses in universities all over the world. It's engaging, funny, and also provides an excellent overview of the current views and topics dominating contemporary IR. I know if I was just beginning in this subject getting to read this book at the beginning would make me that much more excited to dig further in. Hopefully more within the field catch onto this brilliant little piece and use it to increase IR's popularity and accessibility.
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It appears that those of us who remain human can survive the zombie apocalypse after all, if we’re lucky. Addressing what he describes as the “zombie gap” in the existing international relations literature, Drezner (a Tufts University professor and member of the Zombie Research Society) analyzes and compares various theories of international relations by looking at how each would predict the actions of states in the event of a plague of brain-eating zombies. Lest you think that the walking dead are not the kind of threat that can help illuminate political reality in the 21st century, keep in mind that some of the most vexing threats to world order occupying the strategic thinking of political and military leaders today are not the traditional concerns of invasion by another state. Think of threats like terrorists, piracy, failed state implosion, and, yes, zombies. OK, maybe zombies don’t occupy the same mental space as the other threats, but if they did, would there really be a different set of possible responses than those Drezner outlines? And that’s the serious, scholarly part of his argument. The nature of the challenges to international stability has changed, and it is worth asking whether or not states can operate in the same way as before in the face of those challenges. And if they can (or must), then which strategic approach will yield the best results?

This book would be good as assigned reading in introductory classes in international politics in either high school or college. Seriously. As an entry point into the topic, a zombie invasion is as good as any other. Would the question be any different if the threat came from a massive invasion of Jinn, or perytons, or deranged hippogriffs?
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