Book Talk: 'Theories of International Politics and Zombies' by Daniel W. Drezner - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Book Talk: 'Theories of International Politics and Zombies' by Daniel W. Drezner

Which country would best handle the zombie apocalypse? Alexander Wallace explores...
When I was younger, I had ambitions of being an officer in the United States Foreign Service. This led to me majoring in international relations in college and as such learning a good few things about the discipline. Unfortunately, international relations often joins the ranks of economics of being a dismal science (if social sciences truly are sciences), and the theories can be long and turgid.

Enter Daniel W. Drezner’s 2011 book, Theories of International Relations and Zombies. As you might expect, it came on the crest of the late 2000s-early 2010s zombie wave; it mentions World War Z, among other famed pieces of zombie media. Therein, Drezner takes the typical zombie apocalypse and applies a number of different international relations theories to the problem.

What amuses me the most about Drezner’s book is simply how blase he is in discussing something so clearly absurd (for the dead don’t rise from the grave and eat people). Having studied this for four years, I know the detached, clinical tone of academic papers all too well. There then emerges a tonal dissonance between content and prose that is astoundly funny, for after all, comedy is about subverting expectations. All of this is aided by the occasional snarky asides which tastefully pepper the book.

Another delightful thing about Drezner’s book is how legitimately informative this is. As someone who graduated from a well-regarded international relations program, all of this lines up with what I was taught under a number of professors. There’s realism and liberalism and neoconservativism and constructivism, all real schools of international relations and all described with a faithful accuracy that demonizes none of them.

Strangely enough, this is a nonfiction book, despite the promise of brain-eating corpses. Drezner uses the zombie apocalypse as other theorists may hypothetically discuss another world war. He rigorously defines what a ‘zombie’ is and provides theoretical models; for example, he argues that fast zombies and slow zombies would lead to similar political outcomes. There’s a thoroughness here that many scholars could do to emulate.

This is a strange book, and one that is not the sort of thing I usually review for Warped Factor. In any case, it is great fun, and quite short too; I read it in the span of an evening. It’s the intersection of popular culture and real hard scholarship; those wanting something odd but educational will be well served by Drezner’s novel.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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