Theories of International Politics and Zombies – a review

March 8, 2011

Imagine a world ruled by creatures with limited brainpower, bent on the eradication of the human race via rampant consumption. Now imagine what would happen, if this world faced a zombie catastrophe. This is a scenario presented by Daniel W. Drezner in his book Theories of International Politics and Zombies (referred to as TIPZ from now on).

Zombies are all the rage now, or rather have been for the last ten years or so. The years have seen all sorts of books. Some have been blatant attempts to cash in on the zombie craze, while others have actually offered an interesting take on the subject. It is with true joy that I include TIPZ in the latter category. Why? Well, that’s what this review’s all about, isn’t it?

I love zombie books that deal with the question of zombies with a degree of seriousness. Actually, I’ve even reviewed one or two. While TIPZ has its fair share of humour, it still presents us with the very very interesting question of how international politics would cope with a zombie uprising. Or insurgency, as these things tend to be called nowadays. I don’t think there’s one zombie enthusiast who hasn’t toyed with the idea of how the world would actually react. It’s right up there with “what would you do if it really happened?” I’m glad someone finally grabbed the bull by the horns and put it in writing.

That someone is Daniel W. Drezner. As well as a blogger for the Foreign Policy magazine, he’s a professor of international politics as well as a published author on the subject. As such, he knows where he’s coming from in terms of politics. What about zombies then? To my surprise he nails this part as well. The book references a whole lot of zombie pop culture, including some very current outings such as Left 4 Dead. This most certainly warrants a tip of the hat, as a lot of authors of zombie books basically equate zombies with someone green going “braaaaaaaaainssss”and don’t get me started on that.

Drezner knows how to write. That’s quite important when publishing a book. His text flows nicely, it’s informative and easy to read even if you know nothing about international politics. A true academic, he provides referenes for pretty much everything he claims, giving the book a lot of credibility. There’s a fair bit of humour and wit, and the part about neo-conservatives had me in stitches. It’s also not too difficult to see from which side of the political field the author hails from.

The book is very much what the title suggests. It examines how different political ideologies and the people who adhere to them would likely deal with a zombie catastrophe. There are no glaring inconsistencies as far as I can tell, although there are a few comedy exaggerations. It presents fairly logical scenarios that are easy to swallow.

No book is perfect, of course. With all its merits, TIPZ has one major thing going against it. The book is a measly 114 small pages, leaving out the notes, references and acknowledgements. The book is an extension of the author’s article Night of the Living Wonks, and if you’ve read that you know a lot of the book’s content as well. This leads to the book feeling a bit rushed. Not rushed in the sense that it’s poorly written, but in the sense that a lot of very interesting points are just briefly touched on. This book could’ve easily been twice as long and it would still have been able to hold the reader’s interest. As it stands, it’s almost like a teaser. Another thing that some might consider a flaw is that Drezner occasionally moves too far into the humour territory, slightly detracting from the informational content of the book in my view. This is a horses for courses thing, however, and I know a lot of people won’t mind that at all.

Overall verdict: If my biggest gripe about a book is that it left me wanting more, I believe you can easily catch my overall feelings about it. This is a very nice book. It provides the always important food for thought, as well as some genuine laughs. It’s a quick read, too. If the subject interests you at all, do get TIPZ. You won’t regret it.

Prices for the book vary a lot. At the time of writing it’s 13 EUR at the Book Depository, but half that price (6,70 EUR) at Amazon.com. 13 EUR is a pretty hefty price for a small, short paperback, so do a bit of comparison before ordering. I got mine as a reviewer’s copy, which is just cool.


  1. I think I’ve only read three zombie books; World War Z, Suspect Zero and Day by Day Armageddon. I’ve enjoyed them all, and wouldn’t mind getting my hands on some more – do you have a list of recommended titles?


    • Thanks for the comment, Jonathan!

      You can click on the category “Book reviews” on the right hand side of my blog, some interesting ones there. Stephen King’s the Cell is much recommended, too.


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