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The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World

The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World

Anne-Marie Slaughter


A book on grand strategy and its application to less-grand challenges in a world dominated by networks.

The central thesis of this book is that the world of hierarchies and direct state-to-state diplomacy – the chessboard – is giving way to a much more nuanced world in which state and non-state actors interact and co-operate in far ore complex ways – the web. The network effects change everything, from the nature of power and how it's used to the nature of leadership and how one can actually get things done.

It's interesting to see the concepts of network science being applied to social and political science in a way that doesn't trivialise them. The applications range from analysis of interaction patterns to trying to engineer particular interactions such as improving information sharing.

There's an obvious comparison to The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, with which Slaughter contrasts her work, she being a "Wilsonian" humanist versus Joshua Ramo's "Kissingerian" realist. Slaughter's view is that there is a need for more understanding of how small-scale interactions can happen – contrasting with Ramo's desire for aggressive "gatekeeping" of a US-led networked order. I can't help thinking that her view is more realistic and democratic.

4/5. Finished 27 October 2022.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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