An Intellectual Biography
by Paul R. Viotti
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Pub Date 02 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 10 Jul 2024
Kenneth Waltz (1924–2013) is perhaps the most enduringly influential figure in international relations theory of the second half of the twentieth century. He is considered the father of the structural-realist or neorealist school, and his views on core questions, such as the causes of war or the structure of the international system, are foundational to the field today and likely will remain so for decades to come. Waltz’s writings on both theoretical and policy-related topics, from the balance of power to the spread of nuclear weapons, continue to fuel debate.
This book is a groundbreaking intellectual biography of Kenneth Waltz, shedding new light on the development and significance of his key contributions. Paul R. Viotti draws on extensive, candid interviews with Waltz—starting with his German grandparents’ immigration to the United States—as well as Waltz’s personal files and archival research to provide a nuanced account of the great scholar’s life and thought. He traces the intellectual sources and personal experiences that shaped Waltz’s work, including an intense Lutheran upbringing; service in World War II and the Korean War; and the academic environments of Oberlin College, Columbia University, and the University of California, Berkeley. Viotti examines the key influences on Waltz’s major works, Man, the State, and War and Theory of International Politics, and analyzes their distinctive insights. Engaging with the views of Waltz’s critics and featuring reminiscences from his colleagues, this book is a compelling portrait of an intellectual titan.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul R. Viotti is a professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. His books include International Relations Theory (seventh edition, 2023); American Foreign Policy and National Security (2020); U.S. National Security: New Threats, Old Realities (2016); and The Dollar and National Security: The Monetary Component of Hard Power (2014).