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.