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Books for Review

The Hague Journal of Diplomacy regularly publishes book reviews of approx. 800-1000 words, upon invitation by our Book Reviews Editor. We are currently accepting reviews of the selected books below, as well as any other contribution within the field of diplomacy and global affairs.

If you are interested in writing a book review, please send an e-mail to our editor Sophie Vériter referencing the book’s full details, providing an overview of your professional/academic background, and explaining your motivation to write a review for our journal. Prospective authors should familiarise themselves with the journal’s Instructions for Authors

To read our published book reviews, click here.


We have subdivided our books for review in the following categories:


Special Focus on China

China's Foreign Policy Contradictions: Lessons from China's R2P, Hong Kong, and WTO Policy
China's Foreign Policy Contradictions: Lessons from China's R2P, Hong Kong, and WTO Policy
Tim Nicholas Rühlig
Oxford 2022 

Throughout the post-Mao reform era, China has championed the principle of sovereign state control, which holds that states should not intervene in the affairs of other states. Yet as Tim Nicholas Rühlig argues in China's Foreign Policy Contradictions, in recent years they have not actually acted this way. Chinese foreign policy actions fail to match up with official rhetoric, and these inconsistencies—in combination with China's growing power-will have dramatic effects on the future shape of international order.

To explain these contradictions, Rühlig draws from a rich battery of in-depth interviews with party-state officials to explain the foreign policy dynamics and processes of the normally opaque Chinese party-state. He demonstrates how different sources of the Chinese Communist Party's domestic legitimacy compete within the complex and highly fragmented Chinese party-state, resulting in contradictory foreign policies. He focuses on three issue areas: international human rights law and "responsibility to protect" (R2P); China's role in World Trade Organization (WTO) policymaking; and China's evolving relationship with Hong Kong. In each area, different factions within the party-state wrestle for control, with domestic legitimacy of the party always being the overriding goal. This incessant competition within the state's institutions often makes the PRC's foreign policy contradictory, undermining its ability to project and promote a "China Model" as an alternative to the existing international order (and more specifically as a champion of nonintervention). Instead, it often pursues narrowly nationalistic interests.

By elucidating how foreign policymakers strategize and react within the context of a massive and complex bureaucratic system that is constantly under pressure from many sides, Rühlig shows not only why China's foreign policy is so inconsistent, but why it is likely to contribute to a more particularistic, plural, and fragmented international order in the years to come. This book represents a significant advance in our understanding of the foreign policymaking process in authoritarian regimes.


Museums, International Exhibitions and China's Cultural Diplomacy
Museums, International Exhibitions and China's Cultural Diplomacy
Da Kong
Routledge 2021

Museums, International Exhibitions and China’s Cultural Diplomacy examines the role museums and, more specifically, international exhibitions, have played in shaping China’s international image to date.

Drawing on theories and methods from museum studies and international relations, the book evaluates the contribution international exhibitions make to China’s cultural diplomacy strategy. Considering their impact on the country’s international image, Kong also probes the mechanisms and processes involved, examining in detail the policy of, and international activities promoted by, the Chinese government. The book also analyses the motives of the Chinese and overseas museums that host these exhibitions. Taking some major exhibitions that were on show in the UK during the 21st century as a representative case study, the book reveals the mechanisms by which these exhibitions were developed and shared overseas. Questioning who really shapes the image of China, Kong challenges Western assumptions and looks ahead to consider whether, moving forward, the Chinese government and museums could work together in a mutually beneficial way.

Museums, International Exhibitions and China’s Cultural Diplomacy contributes to the growing literature on museums and diplomacy. As such, it will be of interest to academics and students engaged in the study of museums and heritage, international relations, culture, politics, China and wider Asia.


China's Cultural Diplomacy: A Great Leap Outward?
China's Cultural Diplomacy: A Great Leap Outward?
Xin Liu
Routledge 2019

As with many spheres of public life, public diplomatic communication is being transformed by the boom of social media. More than 165 foreign governmental organisations in China have embarked on the use of Weibo (a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter in China) to engage with Chinese citizens and reach out to youth populations, one of the major goals of current public diplomacy efforts. This exciting new pivot, based on systemic research of Weibo usage by embassies in China, explores the challenges and the limits that the use of Chinese Weibo (and Chinese social media in general) poses for foreign embassies, and considers ways to use these or other tools. It offers a systematic study of the effectiveness and challenges of using Weibo for public diplomatic communication in and with China. Addressing the challenges of e-diplomacy, it considers notably the occurrence of cyber-nationalism on Weibo and encourages a critical look at its practice, arguing how it can contribute to the goals of public diplomacy.


Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside
Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside
Wang Xiaowei
Palgrave Macmillan 2020

In Blockchain Chicken Farm, the technologist and writer Xiaowei Wang explores the political and social entanglements of technology in rural China. Their discoveries force them to challenge the standard idea that rural culture and people are backward, conservative, and intolerant. Instead, they find that rural China has not only adapted to rapid globalisation but has actually innovated the technology we all use today. From pork farmers using AI to produce the perfect pig, to disruptive luxury counterfeits and the political intersections of e-commerce villages, Wang unravels the ties between globalisation, technology, agriculture, and commerce in unprecedented fashion. Accompanied by humorous Sinofuturist recipes that frame meals as they transform under new technology, Blockchain Chicken Farm is an original and probing look into innovation, connectivity, and collaboration in the digitised rural world. FSG Originals x Logic dissects the way technology functions in everyday lives. The titans of Silicon Valley, for all their utopian imaginings, never really had our best interests at heart: recent threats to democracy, truth, privacy, and safety, as a result of tech's reckless pursuit of progress, have shown as much. We present an alternate story, one that delights in capturing technology in all its contradictions and innovation, across borders and socioeconomic divisions, from history through the future, beyond platitudes and PR hype, and past doom and gloom. Our collaboration features four brief but provocative forays into the tech industry's many worlds, and aspires to incite fresh conversations about technology focused on nuanced and accessible explorations of the emerging tools that reorganize and redefine life today.



Diplomatic Studies

book cover Reputational Security
Reputational Security: Refocusing Public Diplomacy for a Dangerous World
Nicholas J. Cull
Wiley 2023

We are living in turbulent times, witnessing renewed international conflict, resurgent nationalism, declining multilateralism, and a torrent of hostile propaganda. How are we to understand these developments and conduct diplomacy in their presence?

Nicholas J. Cull, the distinguished historian of propaganda, revisits the international media campaigns of the past in the light of the challenges of the present. His concept of Reputational Security deftly links issues of national image and outreach to the deepest needs of any state, rescuing them from the list of low-priority optional extras to which they are so often consigned in the West. Reputational Security, he argues, comes from being known and appreciated in the world. With clarity and determination, Cull considers core tasks, approaches, and opportunities available for international actors today, including counterpropaganda, media development, diaspora diplomacy, cultural work, and – perhaps most surprisingly of all – media disarmament. This book is crucial for all who care about responding to the threat of malign media disruption, revitalizing international cooperation, and establishing the Reputational Security we and our allies need to survive and flourish.

Reputational Security is enlightening reading for students and scholars of public diplomacy, international relations, security studies, communications, and media, as well as practitioners.

book cover Geopolitics of Digital Heritage
Geopolitics of Digital Heritage
Natalia Grincheva and Elizabeth Stainforth
Cambridge University Press 2024 

Geopolitics of Digital Heritage analyzes and discusses the political implications of the largest digital heritage aggregators across different scales of governance, from the city-state governed Singapore Memory Project, to a national aggregator like Australia's Trove, to supranational digital heritage platforms, such as Europeana, to the global heritage aggregator, Google Arts & Culture. These four dedicated case studies provide focused, exploratory sites for critical investigation of digital heritage aggregators from the perspective of their geopolitical motivations and interests, the economic and cultural agendas of involved stakeholders, as well as their foreign policy strategies and objectives. The Element employs an interdisciplinary approach and combines critical heritage studies with the study of digital politics and communications. Drawing from empirical case study analysis, it investigates how political imperatives manifest in the development of digital heritage platforms to serve different actors in a highly saturated global information space, ranging from national governments to transnational corporations.

book cover: The Concertation Impulse in World Politics: Contestation over Fundamental Institutions and the Constrictions of Institutionalist International Relations
The Concertation Impulse in World Politics: Contestation over Fundamental Institutions and the Constrictions of Institutionalist International Relations
Andrew F. Cooper
Oxford University Press 2024

This book unravels the centrality of contestation over international institutions under the shadow of crisis. Breaking with the widely accepted image in the mainstream, US-centric literature of an advance of global governance supported by pillars of institutionalized formality, Andrew Cooper points to the retention of a habitual impulse towards concertation related to informal institutionalism. Rather than endorsing the view that world politics is moving inexorably towards a multilateral, rules-based order, he places the onus on the resilience of a hierarchical self-selected concert model that combines a stigmatized legacy with the ability to reproduce in an array of associational formats.

Relying for conceptual guidance on the recovery of a valuable component in the intellectual contribution of Hedley Bull, a compelling case is made that concertation represents a fundamental institution as a peer competitor to multilateralism. In effect, the debate over institutional design is recast away from an emphasis on utilitarian maximization towards a wider set of cardinal - and highly contested - questions: the nature of rules at the global level, the salience of institutional clubs, and the meaning and impact of (in)equality and cooperation/coordination among states across the incumbent West/non-incumbent Global South divide.

Consuls in the Cold War
Consuls in the Cold War
Sue Onslow & Lori Maguire (eds.)
Brill 2023 

No studies currently exist on consuls and consulates (often dismissed as lowly figures in the diplomatic process) in the Cold War. Research into the work of these overlooked 'poor relations' offers the chance of new perspectives in the field of Cold War studies, exploring their role in representing their country’s interests in far flung and unexpected places and their support for particular communities of fellow nationals and itinerant travellers in difficulties. These unnoticed actors on the international stage played far more complicated roles than one generally imagines.

Contributors are: Tina Tamman, David Schriffl, Ariane Knuesel , Lori Maguire, Laurent Cesari, Sue Onslow, Pedro Aires Oliveira, David Lee, and Marek Hańderek.

Public Diplomacy and the Politics of Uncertainty (Palgrave Macmillan Series in Global Public Diplomacy)
Public Diplomacy and the Politics of Uncertainty (Palgrave Macmillan Series in Global Public Diplomacy)
Ilan Manor and Pawel Surowiec
Palgrave Macmillan 2020

This edited book explores the multi-layered relationships between public diplomacy and intensified uncertainties stemming from transnational political trends. It is the latest wave of political uncertainty that provides the background as well as yields evidence scrutinised by authors contributing to this book. The book argues that due to a state of perpetual crises, the simultaneity of diplomatic tensions and new digital modalities of power, international politics increasingly resembles a networked set of hyper-realities. Embracing multi-polar competition, superpowers such as Russia flex their muscles over their neighbours; celebrated ‘success stories’ of democratisation – Hungary, Poland and Czechia – move towards illiberal governance; old players of international politics such as Britain and America re-claim “greatness”, while other states, like China, adapt expansionist foreign policy goals. The contributors to this book consider the different ways in which transnational political trends and digitalisation breed uncertainty and shape the practice of public diplomacy.


Book cover: Diplomacy: Theory and Practice
Diplomacy: Theory and Practice
G.R. Berridge
Palgrave Macmillan

This fully revised and expanded edition of Diplomacy written by an internationally respected researcher and teacher of the subject is richly illustrated with examples from the worlds of health and commerce as well as high politics. The instances included are mostly contemporary but considerable historical background to the diplomatic methods themselves is always provided. Among other features new to this edition is a list of topics for seminar discussion or essays as well as annotated further reading at the end of each chapter.Following a chapter on the foreign ministry Part I of this book deals with the art of negotiation (prenegotiations, around-the-table negotiations, diplomatic momentum, packaging agreements, and following up) Part II covers conventional modes of diplomacy (embassies, telecommunications, consulates, secret intelligence by ‘legals’, conferences, summits, and public diplomacy) and Part III examines diplomacy in hostile circumstances (embassy substitutes such as representative offices and interests sections, special missions, and mediation). Students and educators of diplomacy will find much of value in the latest edition of this highly regarded and much-cited textbook.


Book cover: God's Diplomats
God's Diplomats: Pope Francis, Vatican Diplomacy and America's Armageddon
Victor Gaetan
Rowman & Littlefield

Using inside sources and extensive field reporting about the secretive, high-stakes world of international diplomacy, Vatican reporter Victor Gaetan takes readers to the Holy See to explicate Pope Francis's diplomacy, show why it works, and to offer readers a startling contrast to the dangerous inadequacies of recent U.S. international decisions.


The Palgrave Handbook of Africa and the Changing Global Order
The Palgrave Handbook of Africa and the Changing Global Order
Samuel Ojo Oloruntoba and Toyin Falola (eds.)
Palgrave Macmillan

This handbook fills a large gap in the current knowledge about the critical role of Africa in the changing global order. By connecting the past, present, and future in a continuum that shows the paradox of existence for over one billion people, the book underlines the centrality of the African continent to global knowledge production, the global economy, global security, and global creativity. Bringing together perspectives from top Africa scholars, it actively dispels myths of the continent as just a passive recipient of external influences, presenting instead an image of an active global agent that astutely projects soft power. Unlike previous handbooks, this book offers an eclectic mix of historical, contemporary, and interdisciplinary approaches that allow for a more holistic view of the many aspects of Africa’s relations with the world.



Feminist Lenses on Global Affairs

Revisiting Gendered States: Feminist Imaginings of the State in International Relations
Revisiting Gendered States: Feminist Imaginings of the State in International Relations
Swati Parashar (ed.), J. Ann Tickner (ed.), Jacqui True (ed.)
OUP 2018

State sovereignty and autonomy in the twenty-first century are both under challenge and continually reasserted in diverse ways through gender, sexuality, and race-making. This paradox makes it pertinent to revisit the idea of states as gendered political entities. Bringing together scholars from international relations and postcolonial and development studies, this volume collectively theorizes the modern state and its intricate relationship to security, identity politics, and gender. Drawing on postcolonial and critical feminist approaches, together with empirical case studies, contributors engage with the ontological foundations of the modern state and its capacity to adapt to the global and local contestations of its identity, histories, and purpose. They examine the various ways in which gender explains the construction and interplay of states in global politics today; and how states, be they neoliberal, postcolonial, or religious (or all three together), impact the everyday lives and security of their citizens. Such a rich array of feminist analyses of multiple kinds of states provides crucial insight into gender injustices in relatively stable states, but also into the political, economic, social, and cultural inequalities that produce violent conflicts threatening the sovereignty of some states and even leading to the creation of new states.


Women, Peace, and Security: Feminist Perspectives on International Security (Human Dimensions in Foreign Policy, Military Studies, and Security Studies)
Women, Peace, and Security: Feminist Perspectives on International Security (Human Dimensions in Foreign Policy, Military Studies, and Security Studies)
Carolina Leprince, Cassandra Steer
McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2021

Greater participation by women in peace negotiations, policy-making, and legal decision-making would have a lasting impact on conflict resolution, development, and the maintenance of peace in post-conflict zones. Women, Peace, and Security lays the groundwork for this enhanced participation, drawing from insightful research by women scholars and applying a feminist lens to contemporary security issues.

This timely collection of essays promotes the adoption of a feminist framework for international security issues and presents the voices of some of the most inspiring thinkers in feminist international relations in Canada. Women, Peace, and Security provides insightful recommendations to researchers conducting fieldwork, as well as methodological insights on how to develop feminist research design in international relations and how to adopt feminist ethical considerations. Contributions include gender-based analyses of the challenges faced by the Canadian military and by families of serving members. From Canada's Famous Five to the women's marches of 2017, lessons are drawn to inform new generations of women activists, concluding with a clarion call for greater allyship with Indigenous women and girls to support decolonization efforts in Canada.

Offering a unique range of perspectives, narratives, and contributions to international relations and international law, this volume brings women's voices to the forefront of vital conversations about fundamental peace and security challenges.


Book cover: Clare Boothe Luce: American Renaissance Woman
Clare Boothe Luce: American Renaissance Woman
Philip Nash

Wife and mother, author, editor, playwright, political activist, war journalist, Congresswoman, ambassador, pundit, and feminist—Luce did it all. Carefully placing Luce in a series of shifting historical contexts, this book offers the reader an insight into mid-century American political, cultural, gender, and foreign relations history. Eleven primary sources follow the text, including excerpts from Luce’s diary, letters, speeches, and published works, as well as a TV talk-show appearance and a critic’s diary entry describing an evening with her, helping readers to understand her fascinating life. Together, the narrative and documents afford readers a brief yet in-depth look at Luce with all her complications: glamorous intellectual, acid-tongued diplomat, and feminist conservative, she was a deeply flawed high-achiever who repeatedly challenged the entrenched sexism of her age to become a significant actor in the rise of the “American Century.”


Book cover: Breaking Barriers, Shaping Worlds
Breaking Barriers, Shaping Worlds: Canadian Women and the Search for Global Order
Jill Campbell-Miller, Greg Donaghy, and Stacey Barker (editors)
UBC Press

Where are the women? Breaking Barriers, Shaping Worlds answers this question in a comprehensive exploration of the role of women in twentieth-century Canadian international affairs. Foreign policy historians have traditionally focused on powerful men. Though hidden, forgotten, or ignored, women – in paid or unpaid positions, in public or private spheres – have also shaped Canada’s relations with the world over the past century. They can be found not only on the margins of traditional diplomacy, as political and community activists, missionaries, or aid workers, but also at its centre, as diplomatic spouses or as diplomats themselves.


Book cover: Women of the Foreign Office
Women of the Foreign Office
Elizabeth Warburton and Richard Warburton
The History Press

Since the suffrage campaigns in the early twentieth century, the advancement of women’s rights in the UK has been nonstop. Proponents of the cause have aimed for equality across all sectors: personal and civil rights, employment rights, equal pay – and yet Britain’s first official female ambassador did not take up her position until 1976. Many obstacles lay between a capable, educated woman and the fulfilment of her potential. Here, Elizabeth and Richard Warburton cast a detailed eye over the advancement of women in the Foreign Office, as diplomats, ambassadors, ministers and Foreign Secretary. Leaving no stone unturned, they discuss the culturally conservative, closed pillar of the Foreign Office in the context of the times, and of the development of women’s rights both in the UK and across the first world. Supported by first-person accounts, they explore the stories of those who successfully broke through the constraints of convention, prejudice and law, and why.


Women’s International Thought: A New History
Women’s International Thought: A New History
Patricia Owens and Katharina Rietzler (eds.)
Cambridge University Press

This book is the first cross-disciplinary history of women's international thought. Bringing together some of the foremost historians and scholars of international relations working today, this book recovers and analyses the path-breaking work of eighteen leading thinkers of international politics from the early to mid-twentieth century. Recovering and analyzing this important work, the essays offer revisionist accounts of IR's intellectual and disciplinary history and expand the locations, genres, and practices of international thinking. Systematically structured, and focusing in particular on Black diasporic, Anglo-American, and European historical women, it does more than 'add women' to the existing intellectual and disciplinary histories from which they were erased. Instead, it raises fundamental questions about which kinds of subjects and what kind of thinking constitutes international thought, opening new vistas to scholars and students of international history and theory, intellectual history and women's and gender studies.


Feminist IR in Europe: Knowledge Production in Academic Institutions
Feminist IR in Europe: Knowledge Production in Academic Institutions
Maria Stern and Ann E. Towns (eds.)
Palgrave Macmillan

The aim of this book is to take stock of, critically engage, and celebrate feminist IR scholarship produced in Europe. Organized thematically, the volume highlights a wealth of excellent scholarship, while also focusing on the politics of location and the international political economy of feminist knowledge production. Who are some of the central feminist scholars located in Europe? How might the concentration of these scholars in Northern Europe and the UK shape the contents of their scholarship?  What have some of the main contributions been, in the study of the following themes: security; war and military; peace; migration; international political economy and development; foreign policy; diplomacy; and global governance and international organizations? The volume offers both an intellectual history and a sociology of feminist IR scholarship in Europe. It showcases the vitality and breadth of feminist IR traditions, while simultaneously calling attention to their partial nature, exclusions and silences.


From Pariah to Priority How LGBTI Rights Became a Pillar of American and Swedish Foreign Policy
From Pariah to Priority: How LGBTI Rights Became a Pillar of American and Swedish Foreign Policy
Elise Carlson Rainer
SUNY Press

From Pariah to Priority gives a unique insider perspective that explains the unexpected incorporation of LGBTI rights into the United States and Swedish foreign policies. From original data case study analysis and interviews with high-level officials within the State Department Swedish Foreign Ministry and international institutions former diplomat Elise Carlson Rainer provides insights from leaders responsible for shaping emerging global LGBTI policies. The research findings highlight the advocacy process of reforming US and Swedish foreign policy priorities to include LGBTI rights shedding light on how normative values evolve in foreign affairs. The book examines Sweden as the first country to implement a feminist foreign policy and commence formal LGBTI diplomacy. Through this lens Rainer contextualizes the diplomatic precedent of revamping foreign assistance to Uganda when lawmakers there proposed a death penalty law for homosexuality. Scrutinizing effective tactics for advocacy to influence foreign policy From Pariah to Priority explores not only current debates in the area of gender and sexuality in foreign affairs but also offers pragmatic policy recommendations for civil society organizations foreign policy leaders and human rights practitioners.


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