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.