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Theories of International Politics and Zombies [Paperback]

Daniel W. Drezner

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Book Description

Jan. 23 2011 0691147833 978-0691147833

What would happen to international politics if the dead rose from the grave and started to eat the living? Daniel Drezner's groundbreaking book answers the question that other international relations scholars have been too scared to ask. Addressing timely issues with analytical bite, Drezner looks at how well-known theories from international relations might be applied to a war with zombies. Exploring the plots of popular zombie films, songs, and books, Theories of International Politics and Zombies predicts realistic scenarios for the political stage in the face of a zombie threat and considers how valid--or how rotten--such scenarios might be.

Drezner boldly lurches into the breach and "stress tests" the ways that different approaches to world politics would explain policy responses to the living dead. He examines the most prominent international relations theories--including realism, liberalism, constructivism, neoconservatism, and bureaucratic politics--and decomposes their predictions. He digs into prominent zombie films and novels, such as Night of the Living Dead and World War Z, to see where essential theories hold up and where they would stumble and fall. Drezner argues that by thinking about outside-of-the-box threats we get a cognitive grip on what former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously referred to as the "unknown unknowns" in international security.

Correcting the zombie gap in international relations thinking and addressing the genuine but publicly unacknowledged fear of the dead rising from the grave, Theories of International Politics and Zombies presents political tactics and strategies accessible enough for any zombie to digest.


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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

From the Back Cover

"One of the most creative books about international relations you will ever read and one of the smartest."--Peter Beinart, author of The Icarus Syndrome

"Bless Dan Drezner for this book which punches huge holes in the hokum of American foreign policy thinking. Our theories in this business have been thin and often very costly, and if it takes Drezner's 'zombie attack' to puncture their bloat, so be it. Besides, the book is fun."--Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and former New York Times columnist

"Drezner is to the zombie attack what Thucydides is to the Peloponnesian War--he is its great chronicler. As witty as he is insightful, Drezner has taken old ideas and traditions in international relations and brought them back to life."--G. John Ikenberry, Princeton University

"This book fills a gnawing gap in the international relations literature and adds flesh to those bones by communicating key international relations theories in a fresh, fun, and effective way."--Daniel Nexon, Georgetown University

"This interesting, thoughtful, and engaging book nicely integrates the classics of zombie work with theories of international politics to make sense of human--and nonhuman--behavior. This is the only international politics textbook that will make students frequently laugh and think at the same time. Indeed, this textbook is food for brains, which may, of course, only attract more zombies."--Stephen Saideman, McGill University


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  64 reviews
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun with Foreign Policy Feb. 8 2011
By shhhhs - Published on Amazon.com
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Good May 9 2011
By G.X. Larson - Published on Amazon.com
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?).
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More academic than entertaining ... July 30 2011
By Ryan S - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dealing with Theories of International Politics, I expected this book to be somewhat academic. I didn't mind. I like politics and I enjoy reading about political theory. I also expected the Zombie slant would make it more tongue-in-cheek and entertaining. The juxtaposition of those two elements is what attracted me to the book.

I thought it would be lots of fun, but I was wrong. The book was very dry and too inflated, for my tastes. It wasn't entertaining at all.

It did provide an interesting look at how the major political philosophies would respond to a Zombie infestation, and also how it would affect military, trade, bureaucracies, business and social groups -- but it was buried inside a text of university words that sucked all the fun right out of the book.

I was hoping for a smart book with an absurdly entertaining slant, but it was more text book political science than entertainment.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and Great July 23 2011
By K. Kuersten - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars politics, zombies: if you're into technical papers and like your zombies... Sept. 1 2011
By Julie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The premise of the book is fun, but I had a hard time getting into it. It reminded me of one of those extremely technical grad school papers with tons of footnotes and references to various other sources (but fun ones in Drezner's book, I'll admit). Drezner seemed to reference Max Brooks's "World War Z" most of all when describing various international politics topics from "the Realpolitik of the Living Dead" to "Neoconservatism and the Axis of Evil Dead," although zombie authors and directors from Maberry to Romero were also mentioned. It's a short book at just over 100 pages, well-written, and a new spin on zombies: mixing it up with some political science.

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