The concept of middle powers raises problems of definition and classification; Holbraad recognizes these difficulties and nevertheless manages to bring order and rationality to his subject by tracing both ideas and practice through history, looking at a number of states systems (as varied as Europe after the Congress of Vienna, the German states in the 19th century, the inter-American system, the League of Nations and the U.N., and the contemporary world of the superpowers) in which there were powers great and powers small and some in between trying to speak louder than the latter and to exert some influence on the former. Skeptical of self-serving claims, the author keeps his eye on the realities of power. This is a positive contribution to the understanding of international politics.
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