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分享对我的第三本英文专著Social Evolution of International Politics 的一些评语

(2011-11-14 11:16:30)


分类: 我自己的工作

博主按:上周谈妥了Oxford University Press给我的第三本英文书Social Evolution of International Politics 的合同。




本书的book proposal有三个评阅人。两个评阅者强烈支持,另一个“中性到负面”(2:1)。最终,牛津大学出版社的Academic Board对本书投了强烈支持票。







这里先透露一点:出生正统应该是很重要的,像我这样的野路子的人士,要出书确实有不少困难。比如,我个人为我的《我们时代的安全理论:防御性现实主义》比Charles Glaser的Rational Theory of International Politics(Princeton 2010)至少不差。但是,如果Princeton答应出版Glaser的书的话,就不会出一本类似的(即:我的)书。




Review 1(冷静的强烈支持)

The approach Tang outlines is important and difficult.


This proposal and the author have some real advantages.  Evolutionary theory looks simple, but it is not, and so it is a real plus that Tang has had formal training in this area.  Amateurs can pick up quite a bit, but they are also likely to get quite a bit wrong.  It is also clear that Tang has read both widely and deeply in this area.  I usually can find several pieces that authors have missed, but cannot do so here. 【只有极牛的人才有这种口气呀。不过,这对我过奖了:没有人能读完所有的书。】


Of course the payoff is in showing revolutionary theory helps explain IR, and Tang has made a very good start in doing so.  Not only has he published on central topics in the fields, especially the security dilemma, he has an intriguing article that shows what he can do and that presumably will form a basis for a good deal of the book.  I think it is very interesting, both theoretically and empirically.  I can’t vouch for his knowledge of pre-modern history, but the thoroughness of his research in the areas I know about gives me confidence that he has done his homework here as well.


There are potential pitfalls in the project, mostly ones that are flip side of Tang’s strengths.  He is so thorough that there is a danger that the book will grow too long and get bogged down. As a minor example, I think the critique of Giddens in one of the draft chapters, although on target, could be cut.  Tang will have to be very disciplined in what he covers--i.e., he will have to leave out some things that he really wants to keep in for the sake of completeness.  The enormous scope of what he wants to cover compounds this problem, and this is illustrated by the fact that there is some overlap between the draft of the introduction and Chapter 1. 【这是最终促使我将原来的一本书拆成两本的重要原因之一。当然,“On Social Evolution(论社会进化)”这一本要推迟一些,因为要重新评阅。】


In summary, this is very intellectually ambitious, but I think there is good evidence that Tang can pull it off. 


Review 2(中性到负面)


I should also note at the outset that I am sympathetic to the argument that an evolutionary paradigm and evolutionary theories of international politics are desirable. Nonetheless, I am not all that enthusiastic about this book. There are three main reasons for this reaction.

One is that the chapters sent are about how the author thinks evolutionary analysis should be done and whose work he likes or dislikes.  I didn’t detect anything new in the criticisms.  I understand why the author might think this is how best to begin the book but it is offputting for two different audiences.Anti-evolutionary folks will probably just quit reading.  Pro-evolutionary analysts have seen most of this before.  It would have been more useful to send the chapter on the SEP paradigm – at least for evaluation purposes....... 


There is some possibility that the main problem is that there are two books here.  One is about evolutionary analysis in international politics.  The other is about the author’s specific application of his evolutionary paradigm.  I think the author probably needs more space than is allocated for the elaboration and testing of the theory (even if I don’t particularly like the theory and would not expect it to be substantiated by the evidence).【这里的观点和第一个审阅者大体一样。这是最终促使我将原来的一本书拆成两本的重要原因之一。当然,“On Social Evolution(论社会进化)”这一本要推出一些,因为要重新评阅。】


The main readership of this book would be professors of international relations and, more precisely, people who find the evolutionary approach to be intriguing.  In other words, a minority of the professor ranks.  Would it be of international interest?  I don’t see its appeal as one that is restricted by national boundaries but antagonism toward evolutionary approaches is also widespread.

[我的回应:This is why such a book is needed! If all of us follow the prevailing “mainstream” stuff, there will never be “scientific revolutions”. As I have said (paraphrasing Muller), 150 years without evolutionary thinking are enough! But then, reviewer 2’s suggestion that we can split the project into two books will actually broaden the audience and make only the second book more limited to IR students. In contrast, the first book will be of wide interest.]



Review 3(热情的强烈支持)

I strongly support its publication, and will use this opportunity to address the points asked of me in the “Guide for Reviewers.”



The proposed manuscript is a major and original contribution to the field of international politics. To my mind, this alone warrants publication.  However, Tang has masterfully organized the manuscript to present the outline of a clear and forceful manuscript. I see this book as ranking with Wendt’s and Lebow’s works.【这也是我的预期......】


Tang is correct, there is a lacuna in scholarship that this work will fill.  The presentation of the Social Evolution Paradigm to explain the transformation of the international system, with application to major IR theories, is reasonable and clever.   The presentation of SEP is careful and thoughtful.  Tang is clear to delineate how this work fits into an evolutionary approach, its value, but also the pitfalls of such an approach.


It addresses a major question, how has the international system evolved, in a logical manner, and one that stands apart from Wendt and Lebow. 


This work will have a big impact on constructivist thought. 【确实:这本书的一个重要攻击目标是建构主义,一个基本上是观念主义的学派。但是,我又不是一个现实主义者。这本书横扫“几大主义”。】


Tang’s work also will influence the debate between offensive and defensive realists.  Tang’s submission that the evolution of the international system has supported both explanations of behavior at different times is an important argument.  While I do not expect that the argument will be accepted by offensive realists, Tang makes an important contribution to the theory of defensive realism.


Audience and Market

Tang has correctly identified the main readerships for the work.  It will be of international interest. I can certainly see using this work in my seminar on international relations theory, and well as in courses for advanced undergraduates.



I strongly support awarding a contract to Tang for this book.






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