War, Peace, and International Political Realism

Perspectives from The Review of Politics

Edited by Keir A. Lieber


Gathering together essays by some of the most influential modern political philosophers and theorists, War, Peace, and International Political Realism reveals the twentieth-century roots of the realist tradition and demonstrates the enduring relevance of realist insights for current international relations scholarship and foreign affairs. These essays, all of which were published in The Review of Politics, the majority during the 1940s and 1950s, reflect four major tenets of the classical realist tradition: an obligation to confront large and difficult questions about international politics, a recognition of the fundamentally tragic nature of relations among humans and states, a rejection of historical optimism, and a belief in practical morality. Keir A. Lieber provides an excellent introduction emphasizing the importance of political realism as defined by the contributors.

Students and scholars of political theory, international relations, and history will welcome having these important essays in one useful volume; they are just as applicable to contemporary foreign policy challenges as they were to the crises of post–World War II international politics.

KEIR A. LIEBER is associate professor of government at Georgetown University.

ESSAYS BY: Hannah Arendt, Herbert Butterfield, Waldemar Gurian, George F. Kennan, Hans J. Morgenthau, John U. Nef, Paul H. Nitze, Stefan T. Possony, Hans Rommen, Keith L. Shimko, Kenneth W. Thompson

“Political realism is a distinguished intellectual tradition that illuminates the tragic aspects of the human condition. This wide-ranging collection of essays highlights the philosophical depth and topical breadth of postwar realist thought and illustrates both the continuities and divisions that continue to shape that tradition. Readers will gain considerable insight from revisiting these classics, or from discovering them for the first time.” — Stephen Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University

“This collection of outstanding essays by such intellectual giants as Hannah Arendt, Herbert Butterfield, George Kennan, and Hans Morgenthau shows why conflict has long been at the heart of international politics and why there will never be world peace.” — John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

“This volume of essays that were originally published in The Review of Politics provides a unique perspective on the early history of both International Relations and political realism. All of the contributors, including luminaries such as Kennan, Morgenthau, and Thompson, asked profound questions about the nature of man, society, and politics, and should encourage readers to reconsider the purpose of contemporary political science. By focusing on the work of some of the leading realist thinkers who were writing in the 1940s and 1950s, Lieber clearly demonstrates that realism remains extremely relevant to understanding current debates on international politics and American foreign policy.” — Brian C. Schmidt, Carleton University, Ontario, Canada


“. . . War, Peace, and International Political Realism: Perspectives from the Review of Politics is a collection of thoughts and ideas from some of the best thinkers of the twentieth century as they offer essays about realist philosophy and post-World War II international politics.” — The Midwest Book Review