Saturday, April 11, 2009

Listmania

. Saturday, April 11, 2009

Like everybody else, I love lists. High Fidelity is one of my favorite movies (and pop novels), and the whole thing is basically about the psychological importance of creating, updating, and appreciating lists. My earliest appreciation of late night television came from Letterman's nightly Top 10. I routinely demand favorites lists from new acquaintances as a quick-and-dirty way of determining whether or not to pursue friendship. So it gave me some nerdy joy to find that Foreign Policy's impressive blog team have been list-making in the past few days.

The first was Thomas Ricks' 10 must-read books on military history. Not exactly my area of expertise, but who doesn't love a good war book? I was somewhat surprised and disappointed to see that The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich didn't make the cut, but then realized that Ricks' list should really be called "Top 10 Books about American Military Adventurism, Written by and for Americans". Even still I could quibble (No McCullough? No Kearns Goodwin? Do those have too much biography and too little military machination?), but it's tough to argue against any of those he included. It would've been nice to see some non-American inclusions, even as tokens (e.g. Thucydides), but I know that's not Ricks' bag.

Next came Stephen Walt's Top 10 books on international politics. He's a dyed-in-the-wool, capital-'R'-Realist, so I had some idea of what the list would look like before I saw it. Still, and again, it's tough to argue with any of his selections (although I'd have Theory of International Politics over Man, the State, and War and Strategy of Conflict over Arms and Influence. And no Morganthau or Keohane? Why not toss Wendt a bone?), even if I was surprised to see The Great Transformation included.

Drezner followed, and true to form he had to be a bit contrary. So we get a list of 10 worst books on international relations. Thankfully, I haven't read any of them, and now I know I don't have to. Thanks, Dan! I was a bit surprised that no Fukuyama, Barber, or Huntington made his Inglorious Hall of Fame. Then again, Drezner's always had a soft spot for nonfalsifiable grand theories.

Walt has promised a list of Top 10 articles, and Drezner may produce a Top 10 of IPE. If he does, I'd be willing to bet 10 internet dollars that All Politics Is Global is on the list.

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