Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Confounding Powers
Anarchy and International Society from the Assassins to Al Qaeda


  • Date Published: February 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107109452

£ 70.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Nearly a decade and a half after 9/11, the study of international politics has yet to address some of the most pressing issues raised by the attacks, most notably the relationships between Al Qaeda's international systemic origins and its international societal effects. This theoretically broad-ranging and empirically far-reaching study addresses that question and others, advancing the study of international politics into new historical settings while providing insights into pressing policy challenges. Looking at actors that depart from established structural and behavioral patterns provides opportunities to examine how those deviations help generate the norms and identities that constitute international society. Systematic examination of the Assassins, Mongols, and Barbary powers provides historical comparison and context to our contemporary struggle, while enriching and deepening our understanding of the systemic forces behind, and societal effects of, these confounding powers.

    • Addresses key unanswered theoretical questions raised by the 9/11 attacks
    • Provides an analytically eclectic and theoretically progressive model to address vexing theoretical and policy challenges
    • Advances the study of international politics into largely untapped historical contexts
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Confounding Powers is the rare book that simultaneously illuminates important events in the past, advances core topics in international theory, and sheds light on pressing contemporary problems. Essential reading for anyone interested in general international relations theory and the puzzles of the current global struggle against violent extremism.' Daniel Deudney, The Johns Hopkins University

    'Loose talk about how novel actors like Al Qaeda or ISIS are altering international politics is commonplace, but the impact on deep understandings of international politics is fleeting. To get a real bead on these questions, you need what William Brenner accomplishes in this important book: careful theorizing checked against serious historical case studies. Confounding Powers is a deep study that will set the terms of debates about when, why, and how dissimilar actors can upend the established states that dominate the international system.' William C. Wohlforth, Daniel Webster Professor, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

    '[Confounding Powers] raises important questions and provides provocative answers. It should prompt further research about systemic change and the interactions between international society and the diverse political entities and behaviors that constitute it.' Zachary C. Shirkey, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

    '… Confounding Powers makes a valuable contribution to the expanding literature on international systems with 'dissimilar' types of actors. It also helps in opening up space for more innovative approaches that will hopefully reach, in truly 'analytically eclectic' fashion, far beyond the constricting bounds of ahistorical structural approaches such as neo-realism.' Gunther Hellmann, Perspectives on Politics

    'In this study of actors that deviate from the structural and behavioural norms of global society, including the Assassins, the Mongols, the Barbary powers and al-Qaeda, the author looks at how such actors emerge and their way their behaviour serves in turn to shape the system they have breached.' Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107109452
    • length: 290 pages
    • dimensions: 237 x 160 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 5 maps 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. International society and the logics of anarchy
    2. Confusion in the hearts of men: the Nizari Ismailis and the Assassin legends
    3. 'A furore Tartarorum libera nos': the Mongol eruption and aftermath
    4. Out of the shadow of God: power and piracy along the Barbary Coast
    5. In the shadow of the spears: Al Qaeda's clash with civilization

  • Author

    William J. Brenner
    William J. Brenner is a national security analyst based in Washington, DC. His work has been published in the journal Security Studies and the European Journal of International Relations (EJIR), where his co-authored article received the award for best article published in EJIR between 2007 and 2009 from the European Consortium for Political Research. He received his PhD from the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University in 2008, and his work there on the effects of 9/11 on international relations theory was recognized in 2005 with the inaugural Graduate Student Paper Award given by the International Security Studies Section of the International Studies Association.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.