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The Contribution of Nicholas John Spykman to the Study of International Politics

  • Edgar S. Furniss (a1)

Ten years ago Harcourt, Brace and Company published America's Strategy in World Politics. It was written by Nicholas John Spykman, Professor of International Relations at Yale University from 1928 until his death in 1943, and first director of the Institute of International Studies at Yale. Critics recognized that the book was important, but agreed on little else. One reviewer hailed it as “brilliant, incisive, provocative, well-reasoned, well-written, and altogether admirable as an analysis of American foreign policy from a point of view all too long neglected in the United States.” On the other hand, a second reviewer bitterly asked, “What were those eminent scholars at Yale thinking about when they let such an idea loose [that the United States might need German and Japanese power after the war]? … Such guessing and surmising is not objective political science, it is not anything but the expression of mental discomfort that the learned gentleman feels in a world that, despite his own cold-blooded cult of political realism, does not appear to be moving in the direction suggested by his own wishful thinking.” And there was more, much more, both pro and con. Despite a laudatory, front-page review, complete with picture, in the New York Times Book Review, Professor Spykman probably, if the score were totaled, did no better than break even.

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* A chronological bibliography of Spykman'published work includes: The Social Theory of Georg Simmel, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1925; “The Social Background of Asiatic Nationalism,” American Journal of Sociology, XXXII, NO. 3 (November 1926), 396–412; “States' Rights and the League,” Yale Review, XXIV, No. 2 (December 1934), 274–93; “Geography and Foreign Policy,” American Political Science Review, XXXII, No. 1 (February 1938), 28–51, and No. 2 (April 1938), 213–37; with Rollins, Abbie A., “Geographic Objectives in Foreign Policy,” American Political Science Review, XXXIII, No. 3 (June 1939), 391412, and No. 4 (August 1939), 591–615; America's Strategy in World Politics, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1942; “Frontiers, Security, and International Organization,” Geographical Review, XXXII, No. 3 (July 1942), 436–38; letter to Life Magazine, January 11, 1943, p. 2; The Geography of the Peace, ed. by Helen R. Nicholl, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1944.

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World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
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