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Product Details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; revised edition edition (Sept. 26 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231125372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231125376
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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ASKING who won a given war, someone has said, is like asking who won the San Francisco earthquake. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Scott on April 7 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a strange little book. Written early in the academic career of Ken Waltz, this is essentially a political theory text written by an international relations giant. Alas, it sometimes reads like it. The prose is fine, but conceptually, its arguments are fairly simple and straightforward. In that sense it is ideal for the novice or an intro level class. For those with a more thorough background in the subject, three things are of particular interest. First, the clash (re the "First Image") between Waltz the neo-realist and his chosen foil--Hans Morgenthau. How viciously the young turn on their own! Second, Waltz's idiosyncratic reading of Rousseau as an exemplar of early realism. Third, the path from this text to his masterpiece, "The Theory of International Politics". Given Waltz's skewering of theorizing from the first image (man's problematic nature) and second image (regime type and behavior), the path is made clear to his systems-level approach. On the whole this book is an enjoyable read, but hardly an intellectual tour-de-force.
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By A Customer on Sept. 25 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a good caustic review of the methodology of world affairs. The book is a very simple and repetitive read. Though the ideas are absolutely brilliant analyses and very effective, all the major ideas of the book could have been shortened to within a page and still been just as effective. This is one of those books that talks about three central points (given away by the title) and states a thousand examples for each point. Just ask a friend what this one's about...dont bother reading it unless you have a professor that will test you on how many hairs napoleon had on his toes. Enjoy!
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By A Customer on Sept. 13 2002
Format: Paperback
Many criticisms to Waltz's work are unfounded, in that the book is not intended to be an end all for explaining wars in international relations. It does however, provide the reader with a theoretical framework of international relations. The three images of analysis provide for a generalization of the system in which war is promulgated. This book and a bevy of later works argue what level of analysis is best at explicating the cause of war. Don't read this book as a means to finding a simplistic answer to the cause of war, rather read it with the hope of gaining a better understanding of the causes of war.
For those interested in international relations, Keohane and Nye's works are very worthwhile.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Still worth reading after all these years June 16 2007
By Steven A. Peterson - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book has legs! I read it first in graduate school in 1969. I was impressed with the argument then, and still appreciate its power now. He identifies a key problem as (page 12) "identifying and achieving the conditions of peace. . ." He notes that, over time, three separate views have dominated discourse on the causes of war (and how to achieve peace): (a) human nature is the root cause; (b) the structure of states is the key factor; (c) the international system itself is the major variable.

The book proceeds in a linear fashion. First, he examines the variety of arguments locating the cause of war in human nature. However, he also notes that to link human nature to war is not easily done (there is, of course, much debate over exactly what human nature is--or even if there is such a given nature), and that political matters must be taken into account. As he considers the contributions of the behavioral sciences, he notes that (page 79) "The more fully behavioral scientists take account of politics, the more sensible and the more modest their efforts to contribute to peace become."

The second level of analysis is the structure of states themselves. He notes that some have argued that if the state had a proper structure, then peace would result. He considers, for instance, liberal theorists of the 19th century who made that point. One problem: While trying to create more liberal states, what about those illiberal ones who may engage in conflict? What then? The structure of the state won't prevent self-defense. Indeed, some liberals, like Thomas Paine, wanted to use force to democratize the world.

The final level of analysis is the structure of the international system itself. The main point here is that that system can be termed "anarchy." There is no central force to prevent outbreaks of violence. So, violence will occur. Interestingly, he begins the chapter on international anarchy with a quotation from Cicero (page 159) "For what can be done against force without force." States need to protect themselves when there is no mechanism to maintain peace; they will act in their national interest when threatened. The end result is the possibility of war whenever a country might be threatened. In Waltz' words (page 227): "According to the third image, there is a constant possibility of war in a world in which there are two or more states each seeking to promote a set of interests and having no agency upon which they can rely for protection."

In short, all three levels (images) must be understood. None is irrelevant. But the key to understanding war is the state of international anarchy. The book holds up well over time. It still presents a useful message, albeit from the hard-nosed realist position. Neocons won't like the argument that changing the structure of states won't make a lot of difference as long as there is international anarchy. Anyhow, for those interested in a fairly hard-headed analysis, this book still serves a useful purpose.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
still the best intro to the levels of analysis issue in IR Jan. 10 2008
By Faruk Ekmekci - Published on
Format: Paperback
IR scholars has long debated on which level of analysis is the most appropriate and helpful level in approaching international relations. In his seminal book Man, the State, and War, Kenneth N. Waltz becomes the first to analyze the political philosophy behind each level of analysis and their interaction with one another. Unlike his later writings in which he develops a purely structural theory of international relations, in Man, the State, and War Waltz offers a more balanced view on the importance of each "images" for the study of world politics: "the `third image' describes the framework of world politics, but without the first of and second images there can be no knowledge of the forces that determine policy," (238).
To briefly summarize Waltz's images, the "first image" is about human nature. Human-nature accounts explain war by analyzing the common characteristics (or defects) of human beings. These theories tend to attribute war to an "ultimate cause" that derives from human nature: "the root of all evil is man, and thus he is himself the root of the specific evil, war," (3). Waltz's problem with searching for an "ultimate cause," however, is that ultimate causes frequently turn out to be the cause of everything. Therefore, Waltz criticized theories that explain war through human nature by arguing that human nature is the cause of as many good (and benign) things as evil ones (39).
The "second image" is about the characteristics of states: "the idea that defects in states cause wars among them," (83). Waltz analyzes several state-level accounts of war and peace some of which are very fashionable today, such as the peaceful nature of democracies and peaceful impact of free trade. The notion here is similar to the first image, if "bad" states (such as non-democratic or interventionist) can be erased then there will be no war (119). However, Waltz notes that there is no guarantee that good states will not revert to war. Waltz rejects state-level theories that would rely "on the generalization of one pattern of state and society to bring peace to the world," (122).
The "third image" is the international system. The absence of a world government renders the international system an anarchical one; and "in anarchy there is automatic harmony," (160). Thus, wars occur "because there is nothing to prevent them," (232). Waltz tends to view third image as the most important account of war among nations. Yet unlike in his later theorizing, he underlines the importance of the other two images: "we still have to look to motivation and circumstance in order to explain individual acts," (231). Hence, multiple levels of analysis.
My personal view on the levels of analysis question is that among the three different levels from which IR scholars approached to the study of conflict among states, state-level approach has been the most productive and helpful in terms of accounting for the conflict among states and providing us clues as to how to reduce or manage them. Thus, I do not share Waltz's inclination to the third image in Man, the State, and War. Yet in the final analysis, any single level is incomplete by itself. Waltz's Man, the State, and War is important for being the first to analyze the philosophical foundations of each levels of analysis and to argue the complementary relationship among them. "The real problem of IR scholars," Lipson observed, is "to integrate choice and structure," (1884, p. 20). And a successful integration of choice and structure inevitably requires making use of systemic as well as state-level theories. Indeed, this is the current trend in both theoretical approaches (Moravcsik 1997; Gilpin 2001) to and empirical analyses (Huth 1996) of international relations.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A core international relations text Oct. 21 2007
By James Scott - Published on
Format: Paperback
This work by Waltz is one of the cornerstone texts in international relations theory and is a must read for any serious student of the subject.

Essentially, Waltz uses three `images' to attempt to explain why states go to war. These images are, briefly, i) human nature, ii) the nature of states and iii) the state system, and he concludes that while all three levels are important, that it is the state system (ie that it is anarchical) that causes states to go to war.

Like all theories in IR, this one assists in building a picture of how and why states behave, but it is not a stand alone theory of state behaviour. No matter whether your beliefs are realist, liberal or strongly Marxist in describing states, this book adds an important element into the mix.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Three Lenses Oct. 12 2013
By fjness - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I attended a graduate level course recently on analyzing international conflicts and proposing non violent solutions. After reading Waltz`s book, I feel the two week sabbatical was a waste of capital. Waltz provides a better framework in three hours of critical reading than the 2000 pages I read before. Waltz`s book is the perfect book to start one's study of international relations. He covers the topic from a individual, intrastate, and interstate approach that is very insightful. It's age only helps relax the tense muscles created by the claims that we have never seen this before--humanity probably has and modern authors are trying to generate hype and sell books. It is helpful to have read the classic books of policy like The Prince but it is far from necessary as Waltz`s explanations stand well enough on their own. A must buy in my opinion.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Required Reading April 28 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Man, the State and War should be required reading for anyone who wants to discuss international politics. The insights on domestic politics are also valuable. Waltz works through various classical works from Hobbes, Locke, and Spinoza to formulate a coherent and explanatory theory on why wars occur. The first line of the book is, for me at least, political science's version of Call me Ishmael.

Waltz divides his book into three separate sections (Man, State, and War) deducing the permissive cause of why wars are able to occur - the answer anarchy of the state system.

This book is the foundation upon which all IR is built. Truly a top five classic in political science.

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