No Virtue Like Necessity

Realist Thought in International Relations since Machiavelli

Jonathan Haslam

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October 8, 2013
272 pages, 6 x 9 1/2
ISBN: 9780300205008
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth

This wide-ranging book is the first comprehensive history of the development of realist ideas in international relations throughout the last five hundred years. Jonathan Haslam focuses on the emergence and relevance of realist (or statist) thought, showing how it has shaped political thinking and international events since Machiavelli’s time. Haslam draws on an array of original texts in various European languages to illustrate the views of rulers and thinkers, to reveal how wars and other crises affected the thinking of those who experienced them, and to locate realist thinking squarely within the history of political and economic thought.

The author explores four themes relating to modern era international relations: reasons of state, the balance of power, the balance of trade, and geopolitics. He contrasts realist ideas with universalist alternatives, both religious and secular, which were based on a more optimistic view of the nature of man or the nature of society. Realist thought never attained consistent predominance, Haslam demonstrates, and the struggle with universalist thought has remained an unresolved tension that can be traced throughout the evolution of international relations theory in the twentieth century.

Jonathan Haslam is reader in the history of international relations at Cambridge University, and fellow and director of studies in history at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

"Splendid."—Andrew Hurrell, Times Literary Supplement

"A thoughtful and analytical overview. . . . No Virtue like Necessity can provide an important starting point in its thoughtful and literate survey of the development of realist principles and thought. Its greatest usefulness will be for those at graduate and professional levels."—Paul C. Helmreich, History

"A welcome addition to the small but growing literature on the history of international thinking."—Ian Harris, International Affairs

Longlisted for the 2003 British Academy book prize
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