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Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs) [Paperback]

by Robert A. Pape
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 18, 1996 0801483115 978-0801483110 1

From Iraq to Bosnia to North Korea, the first question in American foreign policy debates is increasingly: Can air power alone do the job? Robert A. Pape provides a systematic answer. Analyzing the results of over thirty air campaigns, including a detailed reconstruction of the Gulf War, he argues that the key to success is attacking the enemy's military strategy, not its economy, people, or leaders. Coercive air power can succeed, but not as cheaply as air enthusiasts would like to believe.

Pape examines the air raids on Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq as well as those of Israel versus Egypt, providing details of bombing and governmental decision making. His detailed narratives of the strategic effectiveness of bombing range from the classical cases of World War II to an extraordinary reconstruction of airpower use in the Gulf War, based on recently declassified documents. In this now-classic work of the theory and practice of airpower and its political effects, Robert A. Pape helps military strategists and policy makers judge the purpose of various air strategies, and helps general readers understand the policy debates.


Frequently Bought Together

Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs) + Arms and Influence: With a New Preface and Afterword (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Bombing to Win is a critically important book."—Navel War College Review



"Robert Pape argues comprehensively and convincingly that in 75 years, strategic bombing of civilians has had no effect on the war aims of their governments. . . . His contribution is well-grounded in massive scholarship, but its value lies more in the demolishing persistent misconceptions than in the provision of new insights for the future of air-power."—Survival



"This excellent work is highly recommended as an antidote to the air power hyperbole so often encountered after the Gulf War."—Non-Offensive Defence and Conversion Newsletter


Product Details

  • Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs
  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (April 18, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801483115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801483110
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
(5)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book both stimulating in itself and relevant to many current and near-future issues. I believe that anyone who is interested in defense policy is likely to find much in it which is at once novel, provocative, and convincing. In particular, Pape explicates many of the concepts involved in warlike coercion with admirable clarity, formulates hypotheses of considerable power and precision, and then proceeds to test these against historical evidence. In doing so he reinterprets many historical data in ways which I always found informed and stimulating, and usually quite convincing. Indeed, readers whose primary interest is in military history per se, rather than policy, are likely to find the historical analyses well worth the price of the book, I would judge.
Fundamentally, the book is a critical examination of the proposition that it is cheaper to coerce opponents in war to concede defeat or some important element of it by indirect means rather than to compel compliance through frank conquest. For most of this century, many political and military leaders have subscribed ardently to strategic bombing as just such an indirect means, and it is the base of experience which this has generated to which Pape turns to test and refine his hypotheses. In so doing, he makes his book also a critique of strategic bombing.
Pape acknowledges that the threat of total nuclear devastation of its society can be used to coerce a state whose armies are intact.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading in DC May 6, 2012
Format:Paperback
While now a bit dated (published in 1996), Bombing to Win is a thorough study of the limits of strategic air power that provides key insights backed up by hard data. Most civilians, politicians and the press assume that America can compel other countries by aerial bombardment alone. Robert Pape demolishes this assumption with clear logic backed up with detailed case studies. This should be required reading for any occupant of the White House, Congress, and the Pentagon.

Pape's writing is approachable and concise; his case studies on Vietnam and Korea are particularly interesting, and applicable to negotiation theory beyond pure military applications. Highly recommended.

I'd also put in an appeal to Mr. Pape to do an update for the last 15 years' experience, particularly in the context of the post 9/11 conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the current stalemate with Iran.
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14 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serious thinking on bombing December 23, 1999
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent study of what conventional "strategic" bombing has and hasn't accomplished in war.
Pape covers the ground very thoroughly, and shows how bombing has really worked in war. He concludes that bombing enemy homelands has seldom been effective, and in this I must agree.
The book has one real flaw though. The author is in love with the phrases "strategic" vs. "tactical" bombing. Because of this, he deprecates the effects of the late stage "strategic" bombing of Germany, because "tactical" bombing of some of the same targets was taking place simultaneously. But so what? The important thing is what effects bombs have on a target, not whether they fall out of a B-17 or a P-47!
Aside from this caveat, I can't think of a better introduction to the whole issue of "strategic air war." Just be sure and check out Alfred C. Mierzejewski's COLLAPSE OF THE GERMAN WAR ECONOMY to understand what strategic bombing does when done right.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book March 22, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent book on US bombing strategy throughout the years (from second world war to the cold war and beyond). Good narrative and thoughtful opinions.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good December 29, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
It uses a method that I like of taking previous examples and attempting to prove his theory form that. His theory is that coercion on your enemy will only work if directed against their military.
I found it very good. I would have liked a clearer description of this theory at the front as I found it a bit difficult to understand exactly what he was getting at.
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