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The Worth of War Hardcover – September 2, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


“A book that suggests that there are many benefits from war may seem abhorrent to most people, but Benjamin Ginsberg uses many interesting and convincing arguments to make his case. This volume, however, is much more than a treatise on the benefits of war. It gives a detailed discussion of technological advances, economic developments, and changes in government that have occurred in the past as a result of war. One of the most interesting chapters is the last, titled, ‘Beating Swords into Malign Plowshares.’ It gives a detailed account of government surveillance in the United States, starting with Herbert Hoover through the recent activities of the National Security Agency. This is material everyone should read. All in all, it is an excellent, well-researched volume that is highly thought-provoking.”
—Barry Parker, author of The Physics of War

"Surprising.... Unconventional.... certain to stir controversy...."

Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Benjamin Ginsberg is the David Bernstein Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at the Johns Hopkins University.  He is the author of more than twenty books, including The Value of Violence; How the Jews Defeated Hitler: Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism; The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why it Matters; Do the Jews Have a Future in America?; and Political Science as Public Philosophy, co-edited with Gwendolyn Mink.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (September 2, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616149507
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616149505
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John Martin on January 9, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Whenever one reads a book with a political theme it is a good idea to know the biases or political orientation of the author. The Worth of War is an effort by Professor Benjamin Ginsberg to show the benefits that can result from warfare. Professor Ginsberg is described by Wikipedia as “libertarian and noted for his criticism of American politics in which he says citizens have become marginalized. He also has written on the positive role Jews have played in history.

The essence of Professor Ginsberg’s argument is that historically war has resulted in some benefits. Chief among these are technological advances and economic gains, which in my view are indisputable. However he also claims that war is an agent of rationality. It may be in the sense that countries that engage in war based on irrational thinking invariably lose (Nazi Germany being a prime example), but clearly war, in modern times at least, is an irrational and even desperate act. Finally Professor Ginsberg claims that war mitigates government brutality in the sense that in wartime governments have to move from coercion to persuasion in getting their citizens to comply with the needs of warfare. That may be true but war itself creates far more brutality, both in the fact that killing and torture are its hallmarks and in the ongoing effects it has on soldiers and citizens.

Toward the end of the book Professor Ginsberg goes off his topic and criticizes the excesses of the American government, which he says, continues wartime activities in peacetime, directing them against U.S. people instead. Documents such as the Pentagon Papers and other classified documents that have become public reveal a pattern of deceit and oppression. Popular government requires transparency, which is not there.
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