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Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0801483110
ISBN-10: 0801483115
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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

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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: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By W. D ONEIL on May 19, 1998
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Campbell Austin on 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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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. St Onge on 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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By Frank Swanson on November 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent review of all the alternative theories on the efficacy of aerial bombing, all the way from the beginning of WWI to the first Gulf War. My only complaint is that, like many books, this one could have used a good editor. The author could have developed and supported his thesis in perhaps 50 less pages. That said, I recommend this book to any student of strategic bombing.
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