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Most Entertaining IR Scholar? None of the Above?

April 28, 2011

Steve Walt has a challenge:

…who are the most amusing, entertaining, or witty writers in the field of international relations and foreign policy? I don’t mean books or articles that are “funny” because they are wildly off-base; I mean scholars who are a joy to read because their prose is lively, they offer amusing asides, and maybe even manage a laugh-out-loud witticism on occasion. And to narrow the field a bit more, let’s exclude journalists (who are rarely all that amusing but usually have livelier writing styles).

Since I’m hosting Steve for a talk next week here in the Five Colleges, I have a challenge to Duck readers to come up with a stronger list than his readers can produce. I gotta figure that’s a slam dunk for Duck readers…

Although, we may have a problem — google “entertaining IR books” (in quotes) and see how many hits you get. Not pretty. (fyi, it doesn’t get any better if you unpack it to “entertaining international relations books”)

For my money, Richard Betts has the most lively prose and sardonic wit. I don’t know any one else who has called another scholar (Mearsheimer) a “party pooper” in the pages of Foreign Affairs (although outside the pages of Foreign Affairs is a different story).

As for blogging prose, no one can beat the posts by Stephanie or Brian here at Duck.

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Jon Western has spent the last fifteen years teaching IR in liberal arts colleges at Mount Holyoke College and the Five Colleges in western Massachusetts. He has an eclectic range of intellectual interests but often writes on international security, U.S. foreign policy, military intervention, and human rights. He occasionally shares his thoughts about professional life in liberal arts colleges. In his spare time he coaches middle school soccer, mentors the local high school robotics team, skis, and sails.