Higher Education

Why Nations Go to War, 11th Edition

  • John G. Stoessinger University of San Diego
  • ISBN-10: 0495797189  |  ISBN-13: 9780495797180
  • 480 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2008, 2005, 2005
  • © 2011 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $98.00
  *Why an online review copy?
  • It's the greener, leaner way to review! An online copy cuts down on paper and on time. Reduce the wait (and the weight) of printed texts. Your online copy arrives instantly, and you can review it anytime from your computer or favorite mobile device.

If you prefer a print copy to review, please contact your representative.



WHY NATIONS GO TO WAR is unique. The reflections of author John G. Stoessinger are built around ten case studies and provide a deep analysis of the root causes of modern war, from from World War I to the modern day. The author's main emphasis is on the pivotal role of the personalities of leaders who take their nations, or their following, across the threshold into war. Students are sure to remember Stoessinger's thoughts on war long after their completion of his book. The new 11th edition is completely updated, including references to the recent elections in Afghanistan.

Features and Benefits

  • The main insight of this book still holds true: He who starts a war loses in the end. The major research finding of the author is that no nation that began a war in the twentieth century ever emerged as a winner. Those that start a war and expect a quick victory fight on for years, and then go down in the end. This truth seems to hold up for the war in Iraq, as well.
  • Ten brief chapters reflecting the ten major conflicts from 1914 to the present contain dramatic episodes that illuminate how individual leaders, rather than abstract forces, such as militarism, nationalism, or alliance systems, tend to precipitate a war.
  • Each episode contains examples from living history that illustrate for readers how leaders' misperceptions about the character, intentions, or power of the oppositions' leaders precipitate wars. In short, the human factor is emphasized in order to engage a reader's empathy and to demonstrate that history can be an exciting enterprise. The Epilogue, which traces the author's escape from the Nazi Holocaust via Siberia and China to the United States, is timelier today than ever.
  • At the close of each chapter, updated bibliographies and maps direct the reader to useful works on war, as well as visual references on geographic and ethnic elements in each area of study.

Table of Contents

List of Maps.
About the Author.
1. The Iron Dice: World War I.
2. Barbarossa: Hitler''s Attack on Russia.
3. The Temptations of Victory: Korea.
4. A Greek Tragedy in Five Acts: Vietnam.
5. From Sarajevo to Kosovo: The War over the Remains of Yugoslavia.
6. Four Battles over God: India and Pakistan in 1947, 1965, 1971, and 1998.
7. The Sixty Years'' War in the Holy Land: Israel and the Arabs.
8. Saddam Hussein''s Wars Against Iran and Kuwait.
9. New Wars for a New Century: America and the World of Islam.
10. Why Nations Go to War.

What's New

  • A new section on the situation in Iran has been added: "The Iranian People's Uprising" appears as a subheading under the chapter "New Wars for a New Century."
  • "New Foreign Policy Initiatives under President Barack Obama" includes updated analysis on the impact of the new U.S. President.
  • "Leaving Iraq and Taking On Afghanistan" is a new section that addresses the impact of the recent elections in Afghanistan.

Learning Resource Bundles

Choose the textbook packaged with the resources that best meet your course and student needs. Contact your Learning Consultant for more information.

Bundle: Text + International Politics Atlas

ISBN-10: 1111117799 | ISBN-13: 9781111117795

List Price = $126.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $95.25

This Bundle Includes:

  • Why Nations Go to War
    List Price = $129.95  | CengageBrain Price = $129.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $98.00
  • International Politics Atlas
    List Price = $13.95  | CengageBrain Price = $13.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $10.75

Efficacy and Outcomes


"In this eleventh printing, rich in erudition and lucidity, John Stoessinger provides possible answers to timeless yet urgent questions. Students of diplomacy and political science will benefit from his remarkable insight." -Elie Wiesel

— Elie Wiesel

Meet the Author

Author Bio

John G. Stoessinger

Dr. John G. Stoessinger is an internationally recognized political analyst and a prize-winning author of ten leading books on world politics. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard and has taught at Harvard, M.I.T., Columbia and Princeton. From 1967-1974, he served as acting director of the political affairs division at the United Nations. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and lectures extensively throughout the world. On the eve of World War II, Dr. Stoessinger fled from Nazi-occupied Austria to Czechoslovakia. Three years later, he fled again via Siberia to China, where he lived for seven years in Shanghai. He has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Bancroft Prize. He presently serves as Distinguished Professor of Global Diplomacy at the University of San Diego, and has been listed in WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA and WHO'S WHO IN THE WORLD since 2002 to the present.