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Making US Foreign Policy: The Essentials, 2nd edition

Ralph G. Carter
Making US Foreign Policy: The Essentials, 2nd edition
ISBN: 978-1-62637-813-1
ISBN: 978-1-62637-888-9
2020/289 pages/LC: 2019009924

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"There are numerous US foreign policy textbooks on the market, but this one is my favorite. It tells you everything you need to know about the actors and factors [involved], in less than 300 pages! If you are  interested in US foreign policy, do not look further … get this book now." —Frédérick Gagnon, University of Quebec at Montreal

"A  terrific overview of the key drivers, actors, processes, and outputs of US foreign policy. Carter distills a vast amount of knowledge into a highly readable text that is brought to life by numerous case studies and contemporary examples. His book will be an excellent foundational text for courses, and a valuable reference point for foreign policy scholars."—Jordan Tama, American University

"The second edition is even better than its outstanding predecessor.... Readers will find the clear, analytical exposition offered here to be the best available on the subject." —Patrick James, University of Southern California

"Ralph Carter has achieved what I formerly considered impossible: an engaging and concise primer on US foreign policy that also both serves as an introduction to foreign policy analysis and touches on the major schools of IR theory. I'm sure this text will become a standard in many undergraduate courses." —Valerie Hudson, Texas A&M University


Whether your approach to teaching US foreign policy is thematic, historical, case-study oriented, regional, or perhaps a blend of several approaches, Making US Foreign Policy: The Essentials is likely to be a text that you will want to assign as required reading.

The text focuses on the most fundamental questions: Who makes foreign policy decisions? How? What accounts for particular decisions? At the same time, discussions of current examples—responses to Russian interference in US elections, the travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries, the Trump administration’s immigration policies, reactions to the murder of Saudi journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi, and many more—make the topic "real."

Clear, concise, and reasonably priced, this is the book that will provide your students with a solid understanding of, and interest in, the process by which foreign policy is made in the current environment and the full range of actors involved.


Ralph G. Carter is Piper Professor of Texas and professor of political science at Texas Christian University.


  • Making US Foreign Policy.
  • The Impact of Theory.
  • The Policy-Making Context.
  • Actors in the Policy-Making Process.
  • How Decisions Are Made.
  • The Role of Bureaucratic Politics.
  • The Role of Congress.
  • The Role of Societal Actors.
  • The Role of International Actors.
  • Foreign Policy Outputs.
  • A Look to the Future.