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Causes of War Paperback – April 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080148295X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801482953
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Van Evera's book is a masterful work of positivist social science . . . He offers convincing evidence to show that offense-defense theory is a major explanation for the onset of modern wars."—Choice



"An important book on the roots of war, remarkable in its theoretical rigor and historical sweep. Van Evera demolishes the view that war is an inevitable outgrowth of an anarchic world that encourages belligerence."—Foreign Affairs



"Van Evera's volume is sure to become a core work in the field of war studies. It deserves to be read by anyone with a serious interest in the causes of war."—Journal of Strategic Studies



"This is a very logical and historically well-informed book, which argues that the realist explanations of war may be missing one of the most important aspects of power: whether the offense is thought to be favored instead of the defense."—Political Science Quarterly



"Stephen Van Evera's eagerly anticipated book is rich in theory and thoroughly anchored in history. It is indispensable reading for anyone interested in understanding the wars of the past and preventing those of the future."—Jack S. Levy, Rutgers University



"Stephen Van Evera tackles the central question in international relations—why war occurs between major powers—and presents theoretical arguments that shed important light on this age-old subject. Causes of War effectively supports its findings with a wide reading of history. This unusually ambitious book promises to be the point of departure for all future work on the topic."—Charles L. Glaser, University of Chicago



"I strongly recommend Causes of War for course use. As the main textbook in my advanced undergraduate course on peace and war, the book raised the level of student writing and class discussion significantly. Stephen Van Evera's clear and thorough discussion about research methods made it easy for students to understand challenging issues. This book is a cutting-edge work of theory and a fine text for classroom use."—William Rose, Connecticut College



"Causes of War is a beautifully written and brilliant work that will cast a giant shadow over the study of war for years to come. Not every student of international politics will agree with Van Evera's theories, but each of us will have to confront them."—John J. Mearsheimer, University of Chicago

About the Author

Stephen Van Evera is Ford International Professor in the Political Science Department at MIT.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book claims to offer a "master theory" explaining the causes of war. It also seeks to provide policy prescriptions to show soldiers and statesmen how to make conflict less likely. It is a lofty aim, but the book falls far short of its mark. Van Evera's book is a revision of part of a fifteen-year-old dissertation that must rank among the most widely cited unpublished works in history, It is a work of social science, and he takes great care to observe all the methodological conventions of the field. The resulting volume is thus of greater interest to students and professors than soldiers and statesmen. It is, at its core, a book about formulating and testing hypotheses. It is organized around five hypotheses: (1) "war is more likely when states fall prey to false optimism about its outcome," (2) "war is more likely when the advantage lies with the first side to mobilize or attack," (3) "war is more likely when the relative power of states fluctuates sharply," (4) "war is more likely when the control of resources enables the protection or acquisition of other resources," and (5) "war is more likely when conquest is easy." Van Evera devotes the first four chapters of the book to his first four hypotheses. These chapters collectively offer a useful survey of how power and perceptions of it can create incentives for war. At times, however, the book's search for a "master theory" clashes with the demands of careful scholarship. In some cases, Van Evera cites evidence supporting his hypotheses while omitting equally persuasive facts contradicting it. Elsewhere he draws upon ambiguous or contradictory cases to support his hypothesis. He also frequently makes assertions without supporting them.Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By P. Bratton on October 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
Good analysis of and stock taking of realist theories of the causes of war, including going beyond the normal structural realist "material factors" and systems level causes. Yes van Evera could use more historical research to back up his cases, that is a constant criticism I have of his work. However, this is a good, well argued book that is very accessible unlike books that are either: heavily quantitative (which are just qualitative works set to numbers, how you quantify social phenomenon is a subjective enterprise), rational choice, or post-modern.
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27 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is profoundly disappointing. After waiting almost a decade for publication, one wonders "is this really it?" While scholars have identified myriad potential causes of war, Van Evera picks just five, all drawn from the so-called Realist school. Current puzzles such as the democratic peace go unmentioned. Discussion of where his analysis fits into the quantitative literature on the origins of war is absent, there is no bibliography, the index is incomplete, he relies almost entirely on English language secondary sources for his case studies, and the methodological discussion is embarassing. Regarding the latter, Van Evera smugly claims that the rules of scientific inference simply do not apply in his case. As a course book its principle use would be to instruct graduate students on how *not* to conduct social science. If you're a true believer in the realist school, then this is a book you will love, otherwise it is largely forgetable sophistry. Blainey's 'Causes' is a far, far better book.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a policy maker involved in foreign policy, I am ususally dismayed by the lack of useful research from political scientists. This book is a profound exception.
Van Evera's book has clarified my thinking on many points; I recommend this book wholeheartedly.
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0 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
reinvesting argumentative dialogue that flirts with disaster in a nuclear age is destined to result in disaster. the path to peace is carefully outlined in religious text throughout time... and should be complete in van everera's text. i recommend text from the Hopi, Swiss, Tibet, Kikuyu traditional elders on the subject of "peace".
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