This chapter casts academic international relations not only as a discourse about power, but as a form of power in its own right: rhetorical power, the power of persuasion through the use of language. The purpose of this book is to illuminate the operation of this power by fleshing out the role of poetic techniques and narrative composition in constituting the reality of world affairs. This purpose can be subdivided into two interrelated goals: to lay bare the fictions of factual international relations literature, on the one hand, and to point out the factual sources and implications of international relations fiction, on the other. The chapter couches this agenda in counterhegemonic terms, as a contribution to critical theory, situates it in the context of recent international relations scholarship on the politics of representation and the so-called “aesthetic turn,” and outlines the book, whose symmetrical form follows its twin goals.