Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Castles, Battles, and Bombs"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Castles, Battles, and Bombs: How Economics Explains Military History by Jurgen Brauer and Hubert Van Tuyll.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the walls of Troy to the sands of Iraq, humans have devoted staggering resources to the art and science of war. Yet while military history has long studied the economics of conflict, until now there have been few attempts to apply the principles of economics to military history.

In Castles, Battles, and Bombs, Jurgen Brauer and Hubert van Tuyll reconsider key episodes of military history from the point of view of economics—with dramatically insightful results. For example, when looked at as a question of sheer cost, the building of castles in the Middle Ages seems almost inevitable: though stunningly expensive, a strong castle was far cheaper to maintain than a standing army. Similarly, great commanders of the Age of Battle such as Napoleon, Marlborough, and Frederick the Great are shown to have engaged in cost/benefit calculations: because the risk of losing of an entire army usually far outweighed the potential spoils of victory, they actually chose to fight relatively few large engagements. The authors also reexamine the strategic bombing of Germany in World War II and provide new insights into France’s decision to develop nuclear weapons. Drawing on these examples and more, Brauer and Van Tuyll suggest lessons for today’s military, from counterterrorist strategy and military manpower planning to the use of private military companies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Innovative and thought-provoking—and written to be grasped by readers without a background in economics—Castles, Battles, and Bombs opens up a new perspective on war and strategy, sure to fascinate history buffs, scholars, and students alike.
Read an excerpt from Castles, Battles, and Bombs.