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The Best of Books 2017

 

The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World

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The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World
By Anne-Marie Slaughter
Yale University Press, 2017
304 pp.
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Traditionally, global politics has been understood as a grand competition among states—a chessboard on which statesmen play games of power politics and grand strategy. In this brilliant, imaginative book, Slaughter upends this conception and offers a different image: a global web of networks where games are played not through bargaining but by building connections and relationships. The book dives deeply into “network science” and the dynamics of nonhierarchical systems. Energy, trade, disease, crime, terrorism, human rights: in Slaughter’s view, these are all areas of threat and opportunity that are now driven more by networks than by traditional interstate relations. Slaughter calls on policymakers to develop a “network mindset” that replaces the chessboard’s emphasis on states, sovereignty, coercion, and self-interest with the web’s orientation toward connections, relationships, sharing, and engagement. She argues not that power politics is disappearing but that it increasingly coexists with a more decentralized and shifting system of networks. This book represents an important watershed in thinking about power and interdependence in the contemporary world.

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