Share this

Diplomacy: Communication and the Origins of International Order, Robert Trager

Reviewed by Brian Rathbun

BUY

 

Robert Trager's Diplomacy is a landmark in the study of diplomacy specifically and international communication and signaling more broadly. For many years, the field has been waiting on a book written in the rationalist tradition that did not tell us again what was so obviously untrue: that diplomacy is cheap talk, lying is the norm, and costly signaling is the only way by which states can communicate intentions to one another. More importantly, the book, while relying extensively on formal analysis, sets about actually testing its empirical claims on real evidence, not an illustrative case study hastily chosen after the fact to give the theory some veneer of real-world relevance. This is what formal theory should look like in international relations.

Trager's book is truly ambitious and comprehensive. It sets out to establish not just one way by which states might communicate absent costly signaling; it seeks to identify all such mechanisms (at least that the author can think of). Trager uses extensive case studies but also a completely new data set, based on a coding of the British Confidential Print from 1855 to 1914 that aims at looking for every inference made about the intentions of its rivals in partners over a significant period of time. Trager's communication mechanisms are also not, as is often the case with argum

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

Editor’s spotlight

Remembering Fred I. Greenstein

Eisenhower as an Activist President: A Look at New Evidence
Fred I. Greenstein

Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS