Stephen McGlinchey, University of the West of England
Pub Date: 2016
ISBN 13: 978-1-9108141-8-5
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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 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true since a key theme of the book is that the ideas of IR being international and focused on states is somewhat outdated, shifting to adopt terms such as global, globalisation, and non-state actors.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 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 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 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 at least touches on all of the subjects that I routinely cover in my introductory course on international relations, but the coverage of the 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.
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 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?
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
NOTE 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.