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Why Nations Go to War
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Why Nations Go to War

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  469 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews

Transmitting an understanding of warfare from World War I to the present, WHY NATIONS GO TO WAR, a unique book and a product of reflection by author, John G. Stoessinger, is built around ten case studies, culminating in the new wars that ushered in the twenty-first century: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the wars between Arabs and Israelis in Gaza and in Lebanon. The distinguishin

Hardcover, 286 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by Palgrave MacMillan (first published 1978)
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Sean Sullivan
This classic of the undergraduate international relations course (where I read it) is actually a pretty neat little book. Of course the underlying theory (that war reason for war is largely related to the personality and personal issues of the countries leaders at the time of the war) is deeply, deeply flawed* but its brief historical breakdowns make a for a good introduction or refresher on the major conflicts of the 20th century .

Stoessinger takes most of the major conflicts of the 20th centur
This is an informative and provocative book. Stoessinger goes through the largest wars of the 20th century and discusses the motivations and rationales of the world leaders that decided to turn against each other. He starts with the Kaiser in World War I and ends with President Bush and the neoconservatives going into Afghanistan and Iraq. Studying world history before, World War I has commonly been presented to me as being caused by large social factors like jingoism, the cult of the offensive, ...more
May 10, 2008 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stole this book from my roommate who is reading it for one of his classes, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. I really enjoyed the way that the author considered specific people and personalities in his analyses of the events that lead up to wars and other momentous events rather than attributing them to "the forces of history" or some other vague concept. People start wars, not destiny or the forces of nature. I was especially struck by this approach in his discussion of WWI, where h ...more
Kathleen McRae
Feb 17, 2015 Kathleen McRae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
Why Nations go to War was a very good read and certainly gave a lot of insight into various conflicts in the 20th century. there was a chapter at the end of the book that made me view this book with a slightly different perspective.I think it was a pro american take on things.The author was expressing ideas about the futility of war and its devastating effects on most of the lives it touches but I felt he was glossing over the effects american globalism and military mindset plus their political ...more
Apr 09, 2008 C.S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an old textbook from way back in the day that I kept because I always wanted to finish the sections that weren't actually assigned reading. Probably not the most in-depth analysis of global conflict, but as an overview it's top-notch. Stoessinger creates a compelling argument that war is never inevitable, and that the ultimate responsibility for conflict will always come down to individuals.
Dec 14, 2011 Lynne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this during my college days and just reread my daughters updated edition. WHAT A GREAT BOOK! Perfect as an introduction (or catch up) on what has been happening around the world.

This latest edition does have quite an "author's slant". Stoessinger must be getting impatient with what he sees as mistakes by statesmen and despots. He comes right out with judgment calls on the Iraq war. He is blunt in his opinions.
Aug 28, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this book four stars because it's a really amazing read... for the first 2/3 and then it starts to decline. But first the good stuff:

This book goes over alternative theories of war, perhaps humanity's greatest failing. Dr. Stoessinger proposes that "History does not make history. Men and women make foreign policy decisions." So while people who are very anti-great man history will look down upon this narrative and Dr. Stoessinger's theory(ies), it certainly deserves consideration especia
Michael Griswold
Feb 11, 2013 Michael Griswold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why Nations Go To War has become an iconic text in the study of war and peace. The tenth edition of the text includes chapters on the United States post 9-11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the results of which are still unfolding before us. Stossenger's historical case studies from WW1 to present are readable and yet full of depth, which made the 432 pages that comprise this book just fly by as the reader is taking on a tragic journey into each presidents or dictators war room. The conclusions he ...more
Feb 02, 2011 Mimi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
I read an older edition of this book (published in 1993, I believe). I am interested to see that he has more recent editions, and I wonder what his opinions on more recent wars are.

This book was very enlightening, and I am glad to have read it. Some parts were very difficult, as in they were heart breaking. I never like being reminded of the horrors of war, and I was especially saddened to learn of the atrocities committed to the Iraqi people by the Iraqi people. I had never realized before how
Wars are started by people and leaders not ideologies.
Usually they are guised under causes such as fundamentalism, or such -isms.

Wars are wretched excuse for exercising power and greed.
Wars are based on themes of inevitability and pervasiveness.
A fatalistic attitude is portrayed.
By shifting responsibility to impersonal ideologies or God, the leaders are able to transfer the guilt or obligations of the action of war.
They are veiled and disguised even romanticized by leaders who possess charis
Sep 14, 2016 Saqib rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Geostrategic interests and nationalism are often blamed for war but ultimately,as the author argues,the personality of the major decision makers-statesmen,dictators,policy advisers-is what leads to war. Every country has geostrategic interests but how those interests are prosecuted depends on the personality of these decision makers.
By reading this book,i got a sense of how casually how nonchalantly statesmen and dictators bargain away the lives of millions over what they perceive to be in the b
Oct 20, 2011 Korrin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my "textbooks" for Post WWII History. I really liked the layout and execution of events (dominantly wars) internationally dealt with. It gave me a much better understanding of how certain wars started and why they came about and who was involved and what each leader was all about and why they did the things they did. Stoessinger does an excellent job laying out the facts as well as making it comprehensible and important for readers to know and remember.
May 27, 2011 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book if you have any interest in the major conflicts of the 20th Century. Each chapter is a concise history of the events leading up to that conflict. I just re-read the chapter on the Arab-Israeli conflict after the recent speeches by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Even though my copy is the 4th edition from 1985, it was enlightening.
Jan 29, 2008 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really well organized introduction to some of the modern era's most important wars, this book really goes best within a classroom setting, but it's actually a good read as a stand alone book. If you ever wanted to know why Israel, Iraq, Korea, The United States, and a bunch of other countries have done some of the crazy stuff they've done, this might be a good one for you to look into.
Why nations go to war is an outstanding book. The author demonstrates how WW1 could have been avoided. He also argues how if it had, the alliance system (credited with starting the war) would have been credited for preventing it. I enjoyed getting to know the leaders who start wars. I enjoyed reading on why they started the wars. The authors personal history is a nice story in the book as well.
Rida Rizvi
Aug 20, 2014 Rida Rizvi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
though very briefly described, which troubled to some extent, yet beautifully concluded. I like how he gave a completely new perception to the causes of war, That personalities of the leader do matter and misperceptions are of major importance to bring the nations to the brink of war. At the end author summarized 'why nations go to war' concisely yet adding new details to the topic.d
Shelby Long
Nov 26, 2014 Shelby Long rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great perspective on wars that have happened in the last century or so. Gives a detailed outlook without swaying you with an obvious bias. If you feel ignorant about world affairs or politics than this is a great starting point for moving forward.
Jun 15, 2008 Eugene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: doves and hawks
Not a political science student? It's cool. But this book really has some resonance for our modern time, and a great ay to understand the conflicts present and those to come. He's a brilliant man who leads with his heart and hopes for mankind, never is the substantiveness compromised.
Aug 31, 2014 Mehreen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't get to complete the part on wars between the Jews and the Arabs - my library issue date came early. Anyway, Excellent book on the history of major wars fought in the world and why. Very conclusive and precise notes. Highly recommended.
A.L. Sowards
Mar 24, 2009 A.L. Sowards rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-1900s
This is the best textbook I have ever been assigned to read for a class. I kept it when the class was done. If you want to learn more about the major conflicts of the 20th century, this is a great place to start. (I have the 8th edition)
Dec 03, 2008 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An awesome book for anyone interested in the causes of war. Stoessinger focuses exclusively on the wars of the 20th century. I bought it for a class which I did not end up taking, but I read it anyway. Yeah, it was that good!
Alexander Francis
This was a fairly good book. It was much less technical than I would have liked and seemed to contain a lot of opinions. It gave good insight on who was involved and it was at least interesting to read.
Feb 15, 2008 Joseph rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good for LameBrains like me who know nothing about nothing and need to start somewhere.
Trent Mcfadyen
Well researched and interesting lessons in history.
Very accessible, though at times a little dry and ethnocentric.
Jun 09, 2011 Biogeek rated it really liked it
Clear and concise writing, and excellent basic 20th century history text for everyone. This book got me through my IB History course.
One of the first books I've had to read for school that doesn't make me want to beat my head into a wall every time I pick it up
Jul 21, 2009 Enid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite readable. the premise is sort of a no-brainer, but the book effectively teaches some recent history.
Mar 04, 2009 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
enlightening for someone who knows nothing about the wars of the 20th century.
Nov 12, 2009 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, science
I was amazed by how World War I started.
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