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The Great Powers and the International System
Systemic Theory in Empirical Perspective

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Part of Cambridge Studies in International Relations

  • Date Published: February 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107659186

$ 29.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Do great leaders make history? Or are they compelled to act by historical circumstance? This debate has remained unresolved since Thomas Carlyle and Karl Marx framed it in the mid-nineteenth century, yet implicit answers inform our policies and our views of history. In this book, Professor Bear F. Braumoeller argues persuasively that both perspectives are correct: leaders shape the main material and ideological forces of history that subsequently constrain and compel them. His studies of the Congress of Vienna, the interwar period, and the end of the Cold War illustrate this dynamic, and the data he marshals provide systematic evidence that leaders both shape and are constrained by the structure of the international system.

    • The first book to apply a systemic argument to international relations theory
    • Uses quantitative conflict studies
    • Focuses on three in-depth historic case studies within diplomatic history
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    • Winner, 2014 ISA Annual Best Book Award, International Studies Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Braumoeller presents the first logically sound and empirically tested systemic theory of international relations. He challenges systemic theorists such as Waltz and Wendt and combines rigorous theory, historical analysis, and statistical testing in one coherent package. He engages a wide range of literatures and debates, from the agent–structure debate to computational systems theory to the historical legacy of the Congress of Vienna, all with keen intelligence and even wit."
    Andrew Kydd, University of Wisconsin

    "Neither structural theories nor agent-based theories can adequately account for the fact that the system influences the behavior of states and states act to shape the system. Through rigorous theorizing, sophisticated statistical tests, and historical case studies, Braumoeller explains these reciprocal dynamics, and in the process transcends existing theoretical debates. This is systemic theory at its best. It deserves the fullest attention of all serious international relations scholars."
    Jack S. Levy, Board of Governors' Professor, Rutgers University

    "Bear F. Braumoeller’s The Great Powers and the International System: Systemic Theory in Empirical Perspective accomplishes what no other scholarly work has effectively done by bridging the agent-structure gap and arguing for a truly systemic theory of international relations."
    Michael Cairo, Transylvania University, H-Net Reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107659186
    • length: 297 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 155 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • contains: 34 b/w illus. 10 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. System, state, and citizen
    3. System, process, and evidence
    4. Systems in historic perspective
    5. Conclusions and implications.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • IR Theory
    • Peoples, States, Wars
    • State Behavior
  • Author

    Bear F. Braumoeller, Ohio State University
    Bear F. Braumoeller is a political scientist and an Associate Professor at Ohio State University. He has previously held faculty positions at Harvard University and the University of Illinois. His research lies at the intersection of international security, statistics and diplomatic history and in particular on translating the nuanced and contextual arguments of students of world politics into new statistical methods for political scientists. His work has been published in journals such as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, International Organization, Political Analysis and International Studies Quarterly.


    • Winner, 2014 ISA Annual Best Book Award, International Studies Association
    • Honourable Mention, 2014 Best Book Award, International Security Studies Section, International Studies Association

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