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The Consequences of Humiliation: Anger and Status in World Politics, Joslyn Barnhart

Reviewed by Renato Corbetta

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There is often a timing mismatch between the publication of academic books and the relevance of their subject matter. Many “hot” research topics are passé by the time they appear in print. This is definitely not the case for The Consequences of Humiliation. Joslyn Barnhart's volume appears at a most critical time, as it offers invaluable insights into recent foreign policy turns by China, Russia, and, alas, the United States.

The book's core idea is familiar: states that have experienced humiliation, either because they have failed to live up to their status expectations or because they have been denied the rights and recognition they feel entitled to, engage in aggressive foreign policies to recover their lost status and reputation. Defeat at the hand of weaker opponents, especially in wars they have started, weighs particularly heavily on the minds and consciences of policymakers and citizens alike. Politicians and historians have long been aware of this. Most existing evidence, however, rests on a limited number of case studies and lacks systematic cross-national breadth and temporal depth. More recently, research on status inconsistency has also explored this idea, but it has only focused on major powers.

This book extends the analytical scope further to include all states in the international system. Using Cor

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