Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle” as Want to Read:
How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  138 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
IN 1991 THE UNITED STATES trounced the Iraqi army in battle only to stumble blindly into postwar turmoil. Then in 2003 the United States did it again. How could this happen? How could the strongest power in modern history fight two wars against the same opponent in just over a decade, win lightning victories both times, and yet still be woefully unprepared for the aftermat ...more
ebook, 432 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published October 1st 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How Wars End, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How Wars End

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 492)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
James Murphy
Feb 15, 2012 James Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How wars end. They end in peace. It's not clear from Rose's title or from anything I read about this book beforehand, but this is a history of American grand strategy in the 20th century. Grand strategy is the direction steered in to enable you to win the stable peace you desire when the fighting ends. So this is a history of how America has achieved its brand of peace during the last century. It tells how political and military leaders have handled the endgame of war in making force serve polit ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
The book is about how wars end. Most histories of war talk mostly about how they are fought but there is another component the political objectives and constructive outcomes the warring country wish to achieve. This part as much as the fighting is key to winning a war but it gets much less attention. This book looks at major wars the U.S. has fought since world war one and how they ended including WWI, WWII (Europe and Pacific), Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf War, The Iraq war and briefly Afghanistan ...more
Sep 10, 2016 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
How Wars End purports to analyse the conditions and decisions that lead to the end of American involvement in wars of the 20th and early 21st centuries. However, it reality, there is little analysis and a lot of recount of well-known events. This means that How Wars End is surprisingly lacking in insight. It’s got a great introduction and a great conclusion, but the body of the book doesn’t really live up to expectations.

The author’s central premise is an intriguing one – that America (all all
Joseph Stieb
May 01, 2016 Joseph Stieb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book looks at war termination, which is the phase of a conflict that precedes the actual peace treaty but includes the time in which both sides, or at least parties on both sides, are trying to end the fighting. Rose really did some great research in this book, and the product reflects his thoroughness. He provides a different angle on a lot of 20th century US conflicts that I was mostly unfamiliar with. His criticisms are sharp but fair and moderated by his appreciation for the difficulty ...more
Lauren Albert
I didn't feel that the book said anything new. He analyzes the ending to each of our major wars and tries to see what went wrong and what went right and why. His main points are 1) think about the ending before beginning and 2) don't learn the wrong lessons from the past or the right lessons for the wrong situation. Before we make war, we should respond to what he calls the "Clausewitzian challenge" of making "force serve politics." As he writes, “World War I and the Iraq War, meanwhile, testify ...more
Sep 09, 2013 Ari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Rose's book has a fairly simple premise: that U.S. administrations frequently learn the wrong lessons from the past, and mistakenly apply them to the wars of the present. The book also argues that endgame negotiations, from WWI to Iraq, repeatedly lacked coordination between military strategy and political outcome. To illustrate these points, Rose takes the reader on a tour of U.S. wartime decision-making, attempting to interpret the motives and intentions of politicians as they sought to bring ...more
John Martindale
Mar 02, 2011 John Martindale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, audiobook
I thought Rose did a pretty good job at being balanced, he seemed unbiased, one could not tell if he learned to the political right or to the left. i liked that. I learned a few things here and there. It was interesting how presidents trying to avoid mistakes steered them into whole new blunders. I learned some things from the book, it was far more history then opinion, i expected the opposite. I do wish he focused more on when it seemed to work, like with Germany and Japan after WWII become str ...more
Joe Chernicoff
Nov 14, 2011 Joe Chernicoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'How Wars End' is quite an interesting book, especially for one who has pretty much lived through most of the history Rose writes about. Of particular interest is Roosevelt and WWII, and Kissinger and Nixon discussions re: getting out of 'Nam. This latter bit explains, to a great degree, why or how this country didn't accomplish what it should have, and why our current actions in Iraq and Afghanistan are familiar.

Another excellent book for your reference library.
Anthony Sanders
This wasn't a terribly exciting read; but it was very informative and very well researched. Just the endnotes are practically a book in and of itself. As a military guy it's always interesting to get a glimpse behind the scenes of what's happening at the strategic and national level.
Julian Haigh
Mar 17, 2012 Julian Haigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most books on war or diplomacy seem focused on why wars begin, but in this more practical approach Rose turns his eye to how they end. Placing WW1 to Afghanistan in this perspective and linking them together in brilliant historical analysis studying the different players' mindsets and emphasizing the central place of strategy in sustained winning, this book is an absolute must if you're contemplating a war in the near future :)
Nov 12, 2011 Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A bit dry, but insightful and thorough. My favorite take away is the partial refutal of the old maxim that if you fail learn history you are bound to repeat it. That may be true occassionally, but not enough to be statistically relevant so as to be referred to as universal wisdom. Instead, trying to solve modern day problems using solutions for past mistakes is often a recipe for disaster.
Pete Nickeas
Feb 19, 2012 Pete Nickeas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So if you wanted one book to summarize the ups and downs of the major American wars of the past century, this is it. The chapter on Iraq gives the most succinct explanation of the war's mismanagement that I have read to date. The chapter would work for someone with no interest in foreign policy who felt a need to suddenly learn about that war. Amazing, amazing read.
Dallas Powell, jr.
Excellent analysis, but the author glosses over Afghanistan and doesn't mention even one of America's "small wars" since WWI. His thesis also fails to account for American intervention before WWI.
You may be interested in this political analysis of America’s actions in war. The author’s arguments span the United States’ involvement in wars from World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Doesn't look like I'll be finishing this one. When months go by without me picking it up, I think it's time to add it to the abandoned-books shelf.
Jul 15, 2012 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Policy maker preconceptions and ideas, and politics, can really prolong the agony of war. This is a good book about all of those things.
Chris Gorycki
Apr 01, 2011 Chris Gorycki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An important read. It is a great deal of fun to have a Town School classmate write such an significant book. Thanks Gideon.
Travis Graham
Travis Graham marked it as to-read
Sep 24, 2016
Alan marked it as to-read
Sep 24, 2016
Bobby Valentine
Bobby Valentine marked it as to-read
Sep 20, 2016
Joe added it
Sep 04, 2016
Richard Fortin
Richard Fortin rated it liked it
Aug 30, 2016
Rick marked it as to-read
Aug 29, 2016
Jason marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2016
James Armontrout
James Armontrout rated it really liked it
Aug 24, 2016
Tim Rose
Tim Rose marked it as to-read
Aug 24, 2016
Chad marked it as to-read
Aug 22, 2016
Chavi marked it as to-read
Aug 20, 2016
Benjamin Akande
Benjamin Akande marked it as to-read
Aug 19, 2016
Anthony Meals
Anthony Meals marked it as to-read
Aug 14, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 16 17 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Another Bloody Century
  • The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan
  • The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One
  • Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle
  • After Victory: Order and Power in International Politics
  • War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today
  • The Future of Power
  • Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945
  • Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War
  • Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order
  • The Most Noble Adventure: The Marshall Plan and the Time When America Helped Save Europe
  • The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s
  • Understanding International Relations
  • Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine
  • Battle: A History of Combat and Culture
  • Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace, Revised and Enlarged Edition
  • War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First Frontier
  • The King Whisperers Power Behind the Throne, from Rasputin to Rove

Share This Book