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Maxwell's Demon and the Golden Apple

, 216 pages

1 line drawing

April 2014



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Maxwell's Demon and the Golden Apple

Global Discord in the New Millennium

Just what exactly will follow the American century? This is the question Randall L. Schweller explores in his provocative assessment of international politics in the twenty-first century.

Schweller considers the future of world politics, correlating our reliance on technology and our multitasking, distracted, disorganized lives with a fragmenting world order. He combines the Greek myth of the Golden Apple of Discord, which explains the start of the Trojan War, with a look at the second law of thermodynamics, or entropy.

"In the coming age," Schweller writes, "disorder will reign supreme as the world succumbs to... entropy, an irreversible process of disorganization that governs the direction of all physical changes taking place in the universe." Interweaving his theory of global disorder with issues on the world stage—coupled with a disquisition on board games and the cell phone app "Angry Birds"—Schweller’s thesis yields astonishing insights.

Maxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple will appeal to leaders of multinational corporations and government programs as well as instructors of undergraduate courses in international relations.

Randall L. Schweller is a professor of political science at Ohio State University and author of Unanswered Threats: Political Constraints on the Balance of Power and Deadly Imbalances: Tripolarity and Hitler's Strategy of World Conquest.

"This is the most original and thought-provoking forecast of future world politics to be published in recent years."

"In his new book, Randy Schweller again pushes the boundaries of theorizing about international relations. Others are content to rework and tweak old ideas, both theirs and others' work. Instead, Schweller consistently announces broad new directions, both for himself and for the field. I applaud this bold, risk-taking approach. It is the heart of the academic enterprise."

"Schweller is one of the brightest international relations scholars of his generation, and his insights are genuinely controversial. Maxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple is a must-read text."

"With his typical verve, Schweller explains why and how the concept of entropy illuminates current and coming world politics. This is not your grandfather's treatment of globalization and the information revolution, but a deeply original account, with stimulating ideas on every page."

"'Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.' But, according to Randall Schweller in this brilliant reflection on the present and future of international politics, we are not slouching towards a new major war or any other defining event. Rather, the future is disorder, ungovernability, dissolution, and dissipation. Maxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple is a unique blend of established political science and creative, out-of-the box thinking. Even if Schweller fails to persuade you of his argument about entropy, he will get you thinking in new ways about one of the most important questions of our time."

"Randy Schweller is one of the most innovative IR theorists in the land, and his new book does not disappoint. He cleverly employs the concept of entropy to argue that big trouble lies ahead in world politics, and the United States is destined to lose influence and power. Let’s hope he is wrong."

"... it is more than simply provocative, it demands attention"

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