A history of International Relations theory

Third edition

By Torbjorn Knutsen

A history of International Relations theory


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9581-8
  • Pages: 544
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £24.50
  • Published Date: March 2016
  • BIC Category: Humanities / History, Society & social sciences / International relations, Politics, International relations, HISTORY / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General


This introduction to International Relations theory, now in its third edition, shows how discussions of war, wealth, peace and power stretch back well over 500 years. It shows how ancient ideas still effect the way we perceive world politics. By placing international arguments, perspectives, terms and theories in their proper historical setting, it traces the evolution of International Relations theory in context.

Beginning with the emergence of the territorial state in the Middle Ages, the book follows the international ideas of sages, statesmen and scholars. It discusses early theories about the sovereign nature of the state. It demonstrates how contract philosophers like Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau paved the way for the modern analysis of international relations. It shows how Enlightenment theorists followed up with balance-of-power theory and perpetual-peace projects. It seeks to demonstrate that the contemporary science of International Relations is the outcome of a long evolution and how its core concepts and major theories have been deeply affected by international events along the way while also showing that basic ideas have remained remarkably constant over the centuries. This has been a top selling title for a number of years and this new edition is keenly awaited.


Part I: Preludes
1. Gods, sinners and the origins of IR theory
2. Renaissance politics: the roots of the Modern Ages
Part II: The modern ages
3. Reformation politics: guns, ships and printing presses
4. Absolutist politics: the growth of the interstate system
5. Enlightenment politics: the rise of popular sovereignty
6. Ideological politics: systems of thought and mass participation
Part III: The contemporary age
7. Intermezzo: becoming contemporary
8. World War I, the League and the twenty-years' crisis
9. World War II, UN and a new world order
10. The rivals: the early cold war and the heyday of Realism
11. The thaw and the Third World
12. Arms races and revolutions
13. The turn and the twist
Part IV: The science of International Relations
14. Unipolar world?
15. A Science of International Relations?


Torbjørn L. Knutsen is Professor in International Relations at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

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