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The Logic of Violence in Civil War (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics) 1st Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 858-1322222223
ISBN-10: 0521670047
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"While exciting and extensive, the recent literature on civil wars suffers from poorly specified and empirically untested causal mechanisms. Therefore Stathis Kalyvas' important study is a welcome contribution to the field, as it reaches an unprecedented level of specificity and detail without sacrificing analytical cogency. Going beyond simplistic dichotomizations, such as 'greed' and 'grievance,' Kalyvas offers compelling evidence that civil wars often contain micro-level actions that have little to do with the main conflict dimension of the war in question. Reflecting both intellectual curiosity and impressive erudition, The Logic of Violence in Civil War promises to become an instant classic in conflict research in particular, and comparative political analysis in general."
Lars-Erik Cederman, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

"This superb study will be a landmark in the study of civil wars. It is based on deep and broad knowledge and on a remarkably fertile analytical framework. By focusing on the microdynamics of civil wars Kalyvas is both able to lay old misconceptions to rest and to generate and test a wide range of novel ideas. I predict it will be one of those rare books, an 'instant classic'."
Jon Elster, Collège de France

"Some seventeen million people have been killed in civil war violence in the past half-century. Social science has made considerable headway in figuring out which countries are more or less susceptible to a civil war onset. But it is extraordinary that until the appearance of The Logic of Violence in Civil War, there was a dearth of theory and analysis on the dynamics of killing in civil wars. Stathis N. Kalyvas, through his stunning conceptual clarity, his creative synthesis of the historical record, his theoretical formulation, and his path-breaking microanalysis of the patterns of violence in the Greek civil war, has produced a book that would have, if written by the master, made Niccol- Machiavelli proud."
David D. Laitin, Stanford University

"This book should become required reading for those interested in the study of civil war and insurgency. It is analytically sophisticated, but also encyclopedic in its sweep and discussion of cases from around the world. While academics and specialists will benefit from the work, the material is accessible for more general readership. Furthermore, the work challenges conventional wisdoms and will provoke controversy."
Roger Petersen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Kalyvas's main aim...is to theorize the role of violence as a specific and separate factor in civil war. The author's hypothesis is that violence in particular civil war contexts is linked to the level of control that either insurgents or government forces have over a village or region. He tests it against a large amount of empirical data, primarily from areas of Greece during World War II and the subsequent Civil War, and more impressionistically with accounts and micro-level studies of civil wars from elsewhere. Kalyvas's point is that violence in civil wars cannot be interpreted as simply irrational brutality, but is rather linked to the pursuit of political objectives."
Tara McCormack, Brunel University, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding

Book Description

Why is violence in civil war so brutal when it is often taking place between people who know each other? Is such violence an instance of collective madness? This book demonstrates that there is logic to this violence, entailing the joint action of armed organizations and individual civilians.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics
  • Paperback: 510 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521670047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521670043
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This is a detailed, heavily annotated, extremely logic based thesis on the etiologies of violence in civil wars. There are many examples included of many civil wars. Very few of the examples are graphic in nature. Symmetrical and asymmetrical wars are examined separately.

Each chapter posits postulates which are examined both by logical analysis and references at least twenty civil wars in the last hundred years to arrive at hypotheses which are tested against the history, e.g. The Mau Mau, Philippine, Greek situations. Deeper history civil wars also frequently serve as a fund of examples, I.e. Verdene in the French Revolution and the American Revolution, and the American Civil War, especially the Missouri situation.

Unless you are up for logical analysis of history, this is a heavy read. The book is well written by a man who obviously knows the topic, and has done related original research on the Greek Civil War. It would make great gift for a history graduate student, or student in a military academy.
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Format: Paperback
Bottom Line: this is a useful book in that it provides a framework for secdribing and evaluating violence in civial wars. In this book, Kalyvas argues that violence in civil war has much less to do with emotions, ideology, culture, greed, and grievance than commonly believed. He argues that violence only happens in areas not under `control,' and that it is usually the result of pre-conflict animosities. At the micro-level, civil war violence is neither random nor indiscriminate and is a result of an interactive system that includes central and local actors, combatants and noncombatants alike; each of whom has their own personal motivations. "Civil wars privatize politics," he says and violence in civil wars fulfills a variety of functions; a central aspect of it is its ability to generate compliance among a target audience. Kalyvas uses everyone from Thucydides to the current literature on the war in Iraq to provide evidence, and uses a case study of the 1943-1949 Greek Civil War to provide his "micro" evidence.

The author, Stathis Kalyvas, is a political scientist and professor at Yale, and this book received awards from the American Political Science Association and the European Academy of Sociology as the "the best book published in the United States during the prior year on government, politics or international affairs."
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Format: Paperback
The book starts off a bit focused and mostly has a collection of anecdotes. However, as it goes on, it builds a simple but profound model of war and counterinsurgency. It definitely helps explain when and why we see so much indiscriminate violence in civil wars, even though it also could be counterproductive. Kalyvas points to the role of local informants and denunciation as determinants of warring parties' ability to use selective violence and target actual enemies. Overall, this books is that rare thing in political science - both accessible and profound.
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Appears to build upon that venerable study by Leites and Wolf, Rebellion and Authority, Rand 1970, which was informed by the Vietnam War, which is all to the good. As an erstwhile practitioner, my experience (Vietnam, as well) tells me that moving a conceptual discussion of insurgency/counterinsurgency off a "hearts and minds" focus and squarely onto an examination of the ways in which control determines the behavior of the population, more accurately reflects reality. Adducing evidence from a wide spectrum of conflicts, Kalyvas succeeds in systematizing how this phenomenon occurs, including, inter alia, the "cascade effect" of generating loyalty on the part of family members to the side which conscripts their son into its armed service or militia. This was observed in Vietnam, but Kalyvas cites other examples to show wide applicability of this mechanism.
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