In this monograph Professor Tai-Heng Cheng purports to set up a global perspective on the role of international law in international relations, and in particular on the conditions and ways through which it can be effective. The perspective is the one of the ‘rational’ decision-maker, in the best vein of the New Haven school, whose theoretical framework the author espouses completely and thoroughly. The book is a valuable contribution to international legal theory; it is not written in abstract and hollow words, but on the basis of a practical enquiry based on many examples. By adopting this perspective, it provides the reader with many interesting insights. In particular, it is enriching for the European reader, who is not used to this genuinely ‘US–American’ perspective. The various chapters of the book are as follows: ‘Confronting Anxieties about International Law’; ‘The Politics of Theorizing’; ‘Legalism and Morality’; ‘Judges’; ‘Arbitrators’; ‘Regulators’; ‘Legal Advisors’; ‘Officials’; and ‘Law beyond Cases’. The purpose of these lines is not to give a full account of that book. Nor is it to portray the numerous thought-provoking and fruitful aspects of the developments contained therein; nor, by the way, is it to criticize some points on which the ‘Europeans’ will easily disagree with the author, as on what is permitted to the US officials in Guantánamo (p. 227 ff.). The point is rather to spell out some cardinal aspects, which seem to the present author to be weaknesses of the general approach or inadequacies of particular points. The critical approach, which will here be put forward, should not lead the reader to believe that the book presently criticized is devoid of merit. On the contrary, the author of these lines would not have ventured into the exercise of writing an essay on it if he had believed that such was the case.