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The Origins of Major War (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

Dale C. Copeland

32 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0801437504 / ISBN 13: 9780801437502
Published by Cornell University Press, 2000
New Condition: New Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Origins of Major War (Cornell Studies in...

Publisher: Cornell University Press

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New

Edition: 1.

About this title


One of the most important questions of human existence is what drives nations to war―especially massive, system-threatening war. Much military history focuses on the who, when, and where of war. In this riveting book, Dale C. Copeland brings attention to bear on why governments make decisions that lead to, sustain, and intensify conflicts.

Copeland presents detailed historical narratives of several twentieth-century cases, including World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. He highlights instigating factors that transcend individual personalities, styles of government, geography, and historical context to reveal remarkable consistency across several major wars usually considered dissimilar. The result is a series of challenges to established interpretive positions and provocative new readings of the causes of conflict.

Classical realists and neorealists claim that dominant powers initiate war. Hegemonic stability realists believe that wars are most often started by rising states. Copeland offers an approach stronger in explanatory power and predictive capacity than these three brands of realism: he examines not only the power resources but the shifting power differentials of states. He specifies more precisely the conditions under which state decline leads to conflict, drawing empirical support from the critical cases of the twentieth century as well as major wars spanning from ancient Greece to the Napoleonic Wars.

From the Publisher:

"This is an important and provocative piece of work. Copeland's fundamental argument about the extraordinary importance of the changing military balance is developed with great skill and intelligence, and his use of the historical sources was particularly impressive. This book is a wonderful example of international relations research at its best, and it is remarkably well-written to boot."--Marc Trachtenberg, University of California, Los Angeles, Author of A Constructed Peace

"In The Origins of Major War Dale Copeland presents an innovative theory of the causes of major war and provides powerful and sometimes provocative interpretations of the most important international crises of the twentieth century. This is a model of how to integrate theory and history in ways that enhance both, and is essential reading for all serious students of international conflict. "-- Jack S. Levy, Rutgers University

"Dale Copeland's The Origins of Major War is a superb book. Through a masterful blending of theoretical modeling and historical analysis, it sheds significant light on the manner in which changes in power relationships among countries may increase the risk of the outbreak of serious war. This book will be of great interest both to political scientists and historians, and it will help shape academic and policy-oriented thinking about the problem of shifts in national power and the prospects for world peace for many years to come."--Joseph Grieco, Duke University

"Dale Copeland establishes himself as one of the leading young international relations scholars with this truly important book, which offers a provocative and sweeping theory on the causes of great power war."--John J. Mearsheimer, University of Chicago

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