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The Worth of War Hardcover – September 2, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,145,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gderf on May 11, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Not to be confused with promoting war, this is a very thought provoking examination of the social, economic and technological advances resulting from warfare. War time technological developments have provided benefits in atomic power and semiconductor technology. With obvious exceptions, financial innovations initiated to pay for war have have been highly beneficial, to civilian business and society. War forces rationality. There's a short history of war time legacies in England France Germany and especially the USA. Ginsberg somehow misses the value of advances in medicine resulting from war. War, particularly the Crimean and US civil wars showed great resulting in advances by WWII. Personally I no longer trust government to make the distinctions between benefit and cost of war making the book somewhat moot. Refusal to participate in war is not the answer. Ginsberg uses the example of the Mariori in New Zealand who refused to fight and were killed and eaten by their enemies.

A very significant aspect of war that has carried over to peaceful business is the science of logistics. The author thinks that the Nazis might have won if they hadn't diverted resources to racial cleansing and neglected logistical requirements of the war effort, especially in Russia. Stalin, after his initial mistake thought straight and won.

Hobbes thought that a powerful sovereign authority was best for peace keeping Witness the Pax Romana and British Empire and the role of the US military as the world's policeman. Kant, and more recently Fukuyama, proposed increasing the number of republican governments, as democracies are unlikely to go to war.
Personally, I think history is inconclusive as to that verdict and another way might be needed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frank Blank on April 19, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Fifty or sixty years ago, Marshal McLuhan said "War is education." Or something close to that. Since then, many have pointed out that war spurs invention, but it's a stretch to assume that without war, those inventions would never happen. And if all war does is speed up the process, which is the feeling I'm getting from this book, the concept of "worth" seems a bit misplaced.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By 652596. on April 15, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent!!
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