IR K Basic Reading List

I got a few requests to put together a list of books someone should read if they have no K background and wanted to start working on an IR K for next year’s topic. I figured I would churn out a basic one in case anyone wanted it for the TOC as well, and will do a more in depth update later. One key part of this list is that I am assuming the person using it has very little if any K background. So while Jim George and David Campbell may be the mainstays of a top level college K of realism, for a beginner diving in there would be a little rough. The books are ranked in order of where to start as well.

Two last things- these books will give you more cites than you could ever track down. But also, there is diversity here. I think reading these books is better than just checking out 20 realism books because when you are done you will have a complete argument- i.e. there will not be an affirmative response you don’t have cards on/won’t be ready for. So while you could easily get in a lot more depth by reading a lot of books in one subset (or journal articles), for most debates it won’t be necessary.

1. Contending Theories of International Relations– One of the first books I read about IR on a rec, which has a new edition out last year. Gives many brief intro’s into the various schools of IR to give you a solid base.

2. What Moves Man– half and half explanation of historical, scientific, and biological explanations of realism, and then a critique of those concepts.

3. Theory and Metatheory in International Relations– this book puts some things together and walks you through actual foreign policy decisions and gives insights into what different schools of thought would have to say about them.

4. On Security– a timeless classic. Can be found on the CIAO database in full text.

5. One World, Many Worlds– Probably the best book to read to understand where a lot of K concepts come from like root cause, false choice, critiques of empiricism and specificity etc. Very very readable, but not great to produce a whole K by itself, more suited to supplementing a lot of other K arguments with some good AT: aff answers.

6. Imperial Delusions– this book is fantastic on a number of things, but more than anything neg for framework and epistemology.

7. Super Power Syndrome- Hegemony advantages will be huge, be ready.

8. Critique of Security– the title says it all. A bit more complex, but also a bit better

9. New Thinking in International Relations Theory– Here we are starting to get into some heavier stuff. Jumping into this without reading the books before it would probably produce mystification.

10. Critical Security Studies Concepts and Strategies: Another classic, also has some good aff in it, but probably the densest of the bunch.

Many of these books can be gotten on amazon for under 10 dollars if you get a used copy, but some of them are out of print after initial runs of 3 so you will have to hit the library.

11 thoughts on “IR K Basic Reading List

  1. Scott Phillips

    A bunch of people have contacted me about getting these books, unfortunately I am not a book retailer, therefore I would not do something like say, organize a small group of people , each of whom agreed to scan one of the books and then exchange them with the others.

  2. Rohan Sadagopal

    Some can be found online, at least in partial form. Ones that are partially available, most often on google books, are not really usable from a "reading" perspective, but when time comes to cut the books, having the book on google books + some sort of OCR makes life much easier, especially if your scanner sucks. Also, something I've noticed in several instances with google books is that if the page you need is omitted, but you know the text that appears on that page (maybe you have the actual book, but want to cut that page), searching specific phrases from that page sometimes allows you access to the omitted pages.
    they also have 3d. no clue why

    #2 is partially on google books
    #3 is partially on google books
    Scott mentioned #4 is on CIAO
    #5 is on informaworld
    #6 is partially on google books
    #9 is available in full on questia
    #10 is available in full on questia

  3. Nathan Ketsdever

    Anyone have any suggestions for securitization/threat con/critical IR periodicals beyond Alternatives –which is where you can find some Burke articles and is available on Questia and I believe Proquest (ABI/Inform) and perhaps EBSCO Host???

    Certainly I've seen Borderlands which is available for free online along with Antipode….

    Also, I seem to remember some cards from Millenium: Journal of International Studies (although I don't know which of the databases have it)

    For those that don't have Questia: Access my Library is incredibly impressive (it has Alternatives and Hypathia) and is free:

  4. Tom

    Re: IR Critiques and MILITARY DEPLOYMENT research

    Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its military and/or police presence in one or more of the following: South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey.

    The topic areas are loosely divided into Northeast Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East (which you might call West Asia). The following are some area studies journals with a critical emphasis but without exclusive focus on international relations:

    Middle East Critique (formerly Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies)

    Critical Asian Studies (formerly Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars [1968-2000])

    See also (in no particular order):
    Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
    Security Dialogue
    Third World Quarterly
    South Atlantic Quarterly
    International Relations of the Asia-Pacific
    International Studies Quarterly

  5. Scott Phillips

    When you say “securitization” I assume you mean Copenhagen School, The European Journal of International Relations seems to be their main stomping grounds. Others include:

    Review of International Studies, International Studies Review, Security Studies, Journal of Strategic Studies, basically anything with international and studies in the title.

    This might also be helpful-

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