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Leadership and Transformative Ambition in International Relations

Mark A. Menaldo, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Texas A&M University–Commerce, US
This enriching book explores a theoretical gap in international relations and the role of leader ambition. It presents the idea that some leaders transcend political constraints and as a result, they fundamentally reshape their domestic polity while introducing change to the international system.
Extent: 200 pp
Hardback Price: $120.00 Web: $108.00
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978 1 78100 946 8
Availability: In Stock
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  • Politics and Public Policy
  • International Politics
  • International Relations
  • Leadership
This enriching book explores a theoretical gap in international relations and the role of leader ambition. It presents the idea that some leaders transcend political constraints and as a result, they fundamentally reshape their domestic polity while introducing change to the international system.

Mark Menaldo revisits what is a fundamental question in the study of international politics: the role of statesmanship in foreign affairs. He critiques prevailing realist, rational choice, and personality theories of international relations for conceiving of leadership too narrowly. This book introduces the novel theory of transformative ambition, the idea that some leaders transcend domestic and international political constraints and, as a result, fundamentally reshape their domestic polity while introducing change to the international system. Drawing on Aristotle’s idea of magnanimity and Niccolò Machiavelli’s lessons to princes through his examples of great founders, the author shows how leaders throughout time accomplish great goals through the force of their vision, character, and practice of statesmanship. Case studies include Otto Von Bismarck, Latin America’s autocrats, Woodrow Wilson, Charles de Gaulle, and Pericles.

Providing a critique of international relations theory and a critical examination of how leaders with transformative ambition change domestic and international politics, this book will appeal to leadership, politics and international relations academics and students.
‘Leadership and Transformative Ambition in International Relations is a work whose substance mirrors its name: Mark Menaldo, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M International University, seeks with considerable ambition to transform reigning categories of international relations theory. The work is replete with erudite discussion of seemingly disconnected periods in international affairs, and it weaves a nuanced exegesis of Aristotelian moral thought through a dense set of examples ranging from the Pericles of Ancient Athens to Barack Obama of the modern moment. In general, the work succeeds in its ambitious task and is an excellent addition to the literature on International Relations and Leadership Studies.’
– Joseph Prud’homme, Leadership and the Humanities
Contents: Introduction 1. Realism and Ambition: Otto von Bismarck Reconsidered 2. The Strategic Perspective of Leadership: Ambition as Political Survival 3. Personality and Political Ambition 4. Transformational Leadership: A Theoretical Critique 5. Aristotle’s Idea of Magnanimity and Transformative Ambition 6. Pericles’ Transformative Ambition (1): Regime Politics and Character 7. Pericles’ Transformative Ambition (2): Democracy, Empire, and the Peloponnesian War Conclusion References Index