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The Invisible Hand of Peace


  • 1 b/w illus. 17 tables
  • Page extent: 354 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.52 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521744126)

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$34.99 (P)

The Invisible Hand of Peace shows that the domestic institutions associated with capitalism, namely private property and competitive market structures, have promoted peace between states over the past two centuries. It employs a wide range of historical and statistical evidence to illustrate both the broad applicability of these claims and their capacity to generate new explanations of critical historical events, such as the emergence of the Anglo-American friendship at the end of the nineteenth century, the outbreak of World War I, and the evolution of the recent conflict across the Taiwan Straits. By showing that this capitalist peace has historically been stronger than the peace among democratic states, these findings also suggest that contemporary American foreign policy should be geared toward promoting economic liberalization rather than democracy in the post–9/11 world.


1. American grand strategy and the liberal peace; 2. Liberal international relations theory on war; 3. Releasing the invisible hand; 4. Liberal economic institutions and peace in the twentieth century; 5. Free trade and peace in the first era of globalization; 6. From rivalry to friendship; 7. The Achilles' heel of liberal international relations theory?; 8. Peace across the Taiwan Strait?; 9. The invisible hand or the ballot box?; 10. Capitalism and America's peaceful market power.

Prize Winner

Winner, 2010 Robert Jervis and Paul Schroeder Best Book Award, International History and Politics, American Political Science Association

Winner, 2010 Lepgold Book Prize, Georgetown University


“Thoroughly researched, cogently argued, and clearly written, McDonald’s The Invisible Hand of Peace draws out the essential contribution that capitalism, private property, and free trade make to the liberal peace. McDonald insightfully combines political theory, quantitative analysis, and case studies in a way that illuminates both international history and contemporary policy debates.” – Michael W. Doyle, Columbia University

“The liberal argument that international commerce reduces the chance of military conflict among trading partners has long been controversial among scholars and policy makers. McDonald’s argument that the pacifying effect of trade depends on the presence of liberal rules governing trade within each state helps to sort out when trade helps preserve peace and when it does not. His combination of quantitative analysis and careful examination of the well-known historical cases that have fueled the controversy over trade and conflict makes his book especially convincing.” – Benjamin O. Fordham, State University of New York, Binghamton

“Patrick McDonald argues forcefully that Adam Smith’s invisible hand promotes not only wealth but international peace as well. Going beyond commercial liberalism, McDonald demonstrates that private property and competitive markets constrain the political rent-seeking of leaders and make them more responsive to popular demands. Deftly using both data analysis and historical materials, he advances a challenging new domestic political economy explanation of the erroneously labeled democratic peace.” – David A. Lake, University of California, San Diego

"The empirical chapters are detailed, provocative, and well chosen in terms of their foci and coverage."
Political Science Quarterly, Erik Gartzke, University of California- San Diego

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