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Winning Ugly: NATO's War to Save Kosovo Paperback – October 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815716974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815716976
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,257,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Winning Ugly is the first serious book to assess NATO's first war--an 11-week bombing campaign waged against Serbia to force its troops out of Kosovo in the spring of 1999. The authors, Ivo H. Daalder and Michael O'Hanlon, both of the Brookings Institution, are careful scholars, and they are generally supportive of what the United States and its allies did: "The outcome achieved in Kosovo, while hardly without its problems, represented a major improvement over what had prevailed in the region up to that point and certainly over what would have happened had NATO chosen not to intervene." Yet they are also critical of how this particular approach was formulated by policymakers, and they readily believe better results might have been achieved. In other words, the air war was a success, but a relative one; the good guys won, but--as the title implies--they won ugly.

Daalder and O'Hanlon sometimes equivocate--"Could war in Kosovo have been prevented? The answer, we believe, is maybe"--yet Winning Ugly is an excellent summary of what happened and why it happened the way it did. On the question of whether Operation Allied Force actually prevailed, something skeptics have questioned, they write: "The vast majority of Kosovars are far better off today.... [Slobodan] Milosevic unquestionably lost the war, and his defeat was overwhelming." This is a foreign-policy wonk's book, a sober analysis that tries to draw clear lessons from experience. It's not only the first book worth examining for readers interested in what happened in Kosovo; it may be the best available for some time. --John J. Miller --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"As instant books go, this one is rather good. Daalder and O'Hanlon, both fellows at the Brookings Institution, speak less from the heart than from the head. To its credit, the book is heavily footnoted and conventional, in the nonpejorative sense of the t" —Eliot Cohen, Foreign Affairs, 9/1/2000

"This is a serious and worthwhile study which analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of American leadership and the NATO system in its first offensive war.... Daalder and O'Hanlon make clear that we have a lot to learn if we are going to engage in campai" —Newt Gingrich,, 9/3/2000

"A thorough, lucid, hard-hitting examination of Western, and especially American, policy, scrupulously examining the real alternatives available at the time. On the internal dispute sof Washington policymaker [Daalder and O'Hanlon] are fascinating." —Timothy Garton Ash, New York Review of Books, 9/3/2000

"Must Read" —Lex Ticonderoga, Today's Books / Public News Service, 12/5/2000

"Winning Ugly, a new book published by the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy organization, provides substantial evidence suggesting that U.S. leaders were terribly negligent when planning last year's air war against Serbia." —James Ron, Baltimore Sun, 1/9/2001

"thoughtful conclusions" — St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/9/2001

"Daalder and O'Hanlon are eminently qualified to produce the first comprehensive analysis of the Kosovo crises." —JP Dunn, Converse College, Choice, 1/11/2001

"This volume will prove to be one of the most comprehensive and thorough critiques of how and why NATO's decisions were made in Operation Allied Force." —Timothy Shaw, Contemporary Security Policy, 3/20/2001

"As befits two Brookings Institution members... the authors are adept at pointing out the contradictions between military realities and politicians' rationalizations." —Tom Donnelly & Gary Schmitt, Weekly Standard, 4/24/2001

"It is by far the most comprehensive analysis of the Kosovo war so far." —Fiona Simpson, University of St. Andrews, International Affairs, 4/24/2001

"Mr. Daalder knows the Balkans well and Mr. O'Hanlon fully understands warfare. They make an outstanding team." —Alan Gropman, Washington Times, 7/19/2001

"Daalder and O'Hanlon chronicle in convincing and painful detail how NATO for more than a year tried hard to head off a military confrontation." —Christopher Civic, Survival

"Brookings Institution scholars Ivo H. Daalder (Getting to Dayton: The Making of America's Bosnia Policy) and Michael O'Hanlon (Technological Change and the Future of Warfare) analyze the [Kosovo] conflict in Winning Ugly: NATO's War to Save Kosovo. Their" — Publishers Weekly

"Some officials, including Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, have contended that the allies' qualms hampered the air war, delayed victory and endangered allied pilots. But in Winning Ugly, a book about the war released Thursday, foreign policy scholars" —Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

"An outstanding contribution to the study of U.S. foreign policy making." —Ryan Hendrickson, Eastern Illinois University, National Security Studies Quarterly

"A substantial Kosovo war literature has sprouted during the year since NATO's victory over Serbia, and Winning Ugly by Ivo Daalder and Michael O'Hanlon is probably the most impressive contribution to date. It manages to achieve a fair and balanced treat" —Janus Bugajski, Washington Times

"... it is an excellent first generation study. The detailed chronology and documents in the appendixes are exceptionally valuable." —J.P. Dunn, Converse College, Choice, vol. 38, no. 7, 3/1/2001

"It will be difficult to produce a better book devoted to the anatomy of Western decisionmaking- the authors have interviewed an impressively wide range of US and NATO officials, and their analysis succeeds in bringing the reader inside the confusing and approximate world of strategic choice." —Dr. R. Craig Nation, U.S. Army War College, Parameters, U.S. Army War College Quarterly, 7/1/2001

"This book enhances our understanding of what may become the future of NATO as well as some part of the future of war." —Tom Fedyszyn, Naval War College, Naval War College Review, 1/1/2002

"Their account is heartening and sobering at the same time. It is heartening because the authors offer a number of fascinating and intellectually rigorous anlayses into the possible alternatives to NATO's approach." —Jamie Shea, Director of NATO's Office of Information and Press, NATO Review, 7/1/2001

"... excellent work.... an impressive array of documents supplemented by extensive interviews." —Tom Mockaitis, Depaul University, Chicago, Small Wars & Insurgencies, 4/1/2002

"... one of the first comprehensive accounts of the Kosovo conflict of 1999. The book's greatest strength is its excellent analysis of the political and diplomatic background to the crisis.... Should be required reading for anyone involved with events in the Balkans or interested in the area." —Milan Vego, Naval War College, United States Naval Institute Proceedings, 11/1/2000

"An engrossing story of how we went to war, with important lessons for how we should wage peace." —Anthony Lake,, Assistant to President Bill Clinton for National Security Affairs, 1993-97, 7/19/2001

"Winning Ugly sets the standard against which American and European actions in the Kosovo war will be measured. The authors provide an authoritative and convincing account of the policy conflicts within the U.S. government, the gap between our political a" —Warren Zimmermann, U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia 1989-1992, 7/19/2001

"Winning Ugly proves a much needed lesson on the efficacy of early, forceful U.S. intervention in the Balkans. Equally importantly, it demonstrates that prevarication can be deadly, and that half-measures yield half-results." —Senator Bob Dole, 7/19/2001

"An incisive and revealing dissection of an ambiguous triumph... providing new information on a complex decision and a difficult conflict." —Zbigniew Brzezinski, Assistant to President Jimmy Carter for National Security Affairs, 1977-81, 7/19/2001

"Whether you ultimately accept their conclusions or not, Daalder and O'Hanlon have produced a thought-provoking analysis that represents an important contribution to the debate over when and how to use force in pursuit of foreign policy objectives." —Senator John McCain, 7/19/2001

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Newt Gingrich is right when he praises this book, and the international reviewers that give it 1-3 stars are also right when they point out that it is seriously incomplete and arguing from a very American point of view.

In my view, this book is essential reading together with the following four books, all of which I have favorably reviewed here at Amazon: first, Kristan Wheaton, The Warning Solution: Intelligent Analysis in the Age of Information Overload, Cees Wiebes, Intelligence and the War in Bosnia: 1992-1995 (Perspectives on Intelligence History), Wesley Clark, Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat, and Eliot Cohen, Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime These four books cover what this book does not: 1) a full explanation of why "inconvenient warning" fails time and again; 2) a full explanation of the complete inadequacy of Western intelligence in relation to historical, cultural, and current indigenous intelligence as well as small arms interdiction in lower-tier unstable regions; 3) a useful itemization of the weaknesses of both NATO and the US military in responding to unconventional challenges in tough terrain distant from the center of Europe; and 4) how "supreme command" is most often exercised without regard to intelligence.
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Peter Gulutzan on March 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
There are 724 footnotes in this book, of which 720 seem to be for English-language sources, mostly American. And the trust in American sources is complete. For example: there's a section on the Racak massacre, with no mention that some French and German papers have cast doubts on the evidence, only a 200-word quote from American observer William Walker. For example: the famous appendix to the Rambouillet accord (granting NATO troops the right to bivouac and billet and make use of any facility anywhere in Yugoslavia) was just boilerplate that would have been deleted on request -- and the backup for this revelation is interviews with an American general and an American envoy. Why didn't they ask Yugoslavs too?
Serb criminals and crimes get full coverage along with epithets like "murderous" or "cowardly" or "atavistic". But nothing on killings of Serbs before the war, and nothing in the text about the Belgrade TV station slaughter, or the cluster bombs that hit the Nis marketplace (though that's in one of the appendixes). As for the Chinese embassy attack, it was obviously inadvertent because there was no sensible reason for it. Thus irrationality connected to Serbs proves they're murderers, while irrationality connected to Americans proves they're innocent.
I found no errors in fact, and I don't expect some balanced presentation of non-American views. But a book that doesn't even note the other views, and excises facts which don't fit with the presentation of the American view, has no value except to those who want to believe that NATO was right. Others will prefer Judah's "Kosovo: War and Revenge" (which at least checked multiple sources), and Parenti's "To Kill a Nation". Or at the extreme there's Noam Chomsky's "The New Military Humanism" which is filled with anti-NATO bias ... about enough to balance the pro-NATO bias in "Winning Ugly".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Simon on March 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
The book is exhaustive in the diplomatic minutia involving the events leading up to and during the bombing campaign. It gives the reader a glimpse at the agonizing quibbling that takes part in diplomatic efforts of a difficult matter, almost Sysiphusian. The authors are also caustic in the blunders committed by the allies prior to the bombing campaign.

Where the book is faulty is in three areas. (1) It focuses its main analysis on the American side of diplomacy and politics; in a way, it is defensible since the United States was the main player in ending the genocide in Kosovo. And, although they do report diplomatic/political actions by the Europeans powers, it is not enough (although, quite frankly, I don't think that I could have handled even more quibbling). (2) The book was written shortly after the grisly holocaust in Bosnia, of which the Serbs were primarily responsible, and memories would have been fresh for the reader. Not so now. That event should have been reviewed in the beginning of the book because Milosevic's murderous reputation influenced the subsequent events vis a vis Kosovo. (I personally have a theory that Milosevic, seeing the downfall of the Communist rulers in Eastern Europe decided that the only way to retain power was to exploit the ethnic hatreds that are always present in the Balkans and so that he engineered well publicized, though fake, attacks on Serbs followed by retaliation by Serbs on others, thereby creating a chain reaction.) (3) Granted the fact of Serbian atrocities on Albanians, the book fails to adequately shine a light on the atrocities committed by the Albanian KLA atrocities on Serbian civilians. Like in Northern Ireland where the extremists on both sides refuse to engage each other and instead commit crimes on innocent civilians, in Kosovo (and Bosnia earlier)you had the Serb and Albanian civilians being victimized by the vicious elements within each ethnic group.
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