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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a detailed and practical book which looks at the emerging international security situation, considering key turning points of which Kosovo is one of the most important. Bringing together the overlapping roles of the UN and Nato, the developing notion of an international responsibility to the citizens of a sovereign state, the historic fears of the formerly communist world in regard to American imperialism, issues of territoriality, borders and scarcening natural resources, International Security: A Very Short Introduction becomes almost a primer for the state of international politics in its publication year. Unlike other books in this series, it is likely to go out of date as the situation develops, but it is nonetheless an incisive review of today's world.

The key turning point in this book is Kosovo, where a series of reports reinterpret international law away from the UN's founding mission on international stability to a Responsibility to Protect (R2P) which enables coalitions of the willing to go above a vote of the UN Security Council where atrocities are being committed by a sovereign state against its own people. This represents a very substantial unfreezing of the post-World War II situation, which gave de facto authority to the Great Powers at the end of the war, since these were and are the permanent members of the Security Council, empowered to veto. While the original arrangements were made with a view to the kind of concerted action which defeated Hitler, their development during and after the Cold War made the Security Council a council of vested interests, at times working directly against the original aspirations with which it was set up.

As Browning explains and explores, R2P has been deployed selectively since then, always by NATO or NATO's key players, and leaves very significant questions about why there was intervention in Libya but not Egypt, and, one might add, not Syria as at present.

The book concludes with a look at terrorism after 9/11, and resource scarcity. However, its sobering conclusion seems to be that international security remains largely about the assessments made by today's Great Powers about what is economically most in their interests.
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This book started off well enough, covering topics in what is normally assumed under the topic of international relations and international security. The first part of the book was a fairly straightforward, albeit unremarkable, rehash of topics such as war and peace, changing nature of armed conflict, and United Nations. In the second half, however, things started to seriously go off track. Most of that part of the book covered topics that, albeit important and interesting, are at best tangential to the whole issue of security proper: human development, proper natural resource management, environmental degradation, etc. The worst, however, was reserved for the last chapter which was essentially, and I am not exaggerating, a full-scale apologia for terrorism and the attacks of 9/11 in particular. I really couldn’t believe what I was reading, and parts of this chapter were stomach churning. I pretty much had to force myself to finish reading that rubbish. The author is apparently an acolyte of Noam Chomsky school of international relations, whom he directly invokes in this chapter. This kind of total intellectual dross I would expect to read on the pages of some third-rate college newspaper, but not from the pages of a serious scholarly book published by an eminent university press.

I’ve read several of these Very Short Introduction (VSI) books on themes of international relations, foreign affairs, and similar topics. Out of all of themes that VSI covers this one seems to be, by far, the most one sided and lacking any rigorous scholarly reflection. Whoever is the editor at OUP specializing in this topic should really lose his job, and sooner the better.
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on 16 April 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found this book to be emotive and unbalanced, and moreover not a worthwhile introduction or otherwise to the subject of international security.

I would urge the reader to avoid this book and to do a cursory internet search where you will find a plethora of more valuable information from a more balanced point of view.
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VINE VOICEon 4 January 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Coming to this book with my usual clutch of preconceived ideas I must admit to expecting the majority of the book to do with the various forms of security apparatus employed by governments against considered threats. Within a few pages I realised the author had a far wider and deeper perception of security to inform the reader about.

In this very compact volume are introduced other concepts of security which we in the West might from time to time overlook; such as security from life-threatening poverty, or the ravages of fatal diseases endemic to some regions. Then ones which we should be giving thought to such as security of resources, of our environment and economy. All very much thought provoking. In addition there are very stimulating and challenging essays upon the traditional aspects of the subject, War, Terrorism and Geo-Political implications.

One thing to bear in mind when reading this book the use of some words might not be used in the conventional context you might recognise them. For instance `Regime' here is not relating to a government but a system of co-operation, such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty for Nuclear Arms. This I found challenging in the constructive way it stopped me skipping over a sentance and making me come back to read more carefully. (Another example is shown below)

I do like a book that gives me something of a metaphorical shaking out of my conceptions too. Turning to the subject of War; I was introduced to the concepts of `The Realists'; those who believe it is in human nature to engage in conflict and the `Neo-Realists' those who subscribe to the idea that the very existence of nations cause conflict in what the authors terms as an (quote to follow) `anarchic international system which militates against co-operation and fosters mistrust'. Oh, I thought, and here was me thinking I was an open minded thinking person, but by these standards I am a neo-realist. And the beauty of this was that I was not annoyed or disagreeing because of the explanation offered for the more optimistic view of the `Critical Approach' which suggests the two branches of the realists are not taking into account other variables and those in positions of power or influence fall into the trap of self-fulfilling prophecies. Made me think I tell you.

It says much about a book of but 117 pages that there is so much to consider and read over and over. The use of language is not overtly academic or arcane; it simply draws you into the truly thinking of the variety of issues contained within the word `Security'.

I would highly recommend this volume to anyone who has interests and concerns of a global scale; even if you have read books on this subject, as I have, there is much to learn and consider in this work. Even if you might end up not agreeing with the views I contend it will make you think about your position.
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VINE VOICEon 7 January 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I will start with an admission. I am quite a fan of the Very Short Introduction series and this is a solid example of the type. It has a good spread of topics all of which go to show the interconnectedness and vulnerability of the modern world, at least the western world where living is relatively easy and comfortable. Very well written and easy to access I would recommend this as a first read to an interested student or someone who wants more background to the news.
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VINE VOICEon 20 February 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Browning provides a handy introduction which serves as a useful primer for more specialised reading and study. I got the book whilst studying a module in International Security Theory and found his summaries and lines of explanation to be coherent, accurate and well-judged. You're not short-changed and inkeeping with the broader OUP Very Short Introduction series, the book is scholarly and doesn't gloss over the important bits.
Although it would be accessible to an interested generalist, this is more for a student; A Level - Post-Graduate range.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 April 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the second 'very short introduction' book that I've read after Symmetry  and I find the format very appealing if somewhat dry. If you are familiar with the series, you'll know that they have to cover a lot of ground in a compact succinct format but that they have crammed a lifetime of expertise and thought-provoking material into a tiny pocketbook format.

In the case of international security, Browning has attempted to frame the question in many ways beyond the narrow usage of the term in the widespread media. There are plenty of contentious subjects under such an umbrella and Browning gives highlights the key elements well.

The text is a little terse in parts and lacks the personality that might be found in a book with a less tightly constrained format but is an excellent primer to the subject and good for any reader who wants to have a wider perspective on the challenges facing the security of humans and nations (and the conflicting needs of each).
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VINE VOICEon 17 April 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"International Security" provokes the cool balanced tones of political apparatchik mixed with military deliberations in strategic think tanks.

Mr Browning invokes socio-economic arguments and the view from the more deprives areas of the world. There is a lot to like in his writing and at times I occasionally thought the shorter format did not do him any justice. That said, I also felt the impression that there were major issues that could have had more coverage. I would certainly recommend this to the lay person, and there are certain aspects that would enrich debate,
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on 2 April 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is from the VSI series where an expert introduces the reader to a given subject in about 100 pages. I've recently read a number of these which have been a little disappointing but this one is much better. The author firstly describes the topic in terms of the different sub-subjects it entails and then delves into each of them. I found the reflection on how international security perception has changed since 9/11 particularly interesting.

Good read, although a somewhat limited subject
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on 17 April 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is yet another interesting and topical look at a very relavant area by Oxford University Press. As per previous volumes, it's housed in an attractive Rothko-esque cover and contains chunks of essential information relating to its theme.

With the Russians currently engaging their war machine against Ukraine, the book couldn't be more timely, and don't be suprised if, by the time you buy it, we're close to World War III and ultimately Armegeddon. Still, it's not the end of the world, is it?
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