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The Politics of the First World War
A Course in Game Theory and International Security

$39.99 (X)

  • Date Published: April 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108444378

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About the Authors
  • The Great War is an immense, confusing and overwhelming historical conflict - the ideal case study for teaching game theory and international relations. Using thirteen historical puzzles, from the outbreak of the war and the stability of attrition, to unrestricted submarine warfare and American entry into the war, this book provides students with a rigorous yet accessible training in game theory. Each chapter shows, through guided exercises, how game theoretical models can explain otherwise challenging strategic puzzles, shedding light on the role of individual leaders in world politics, cooperation between coalitions partners, the effectiveness of international law, the termination of conflict, and the challenges of making peace. Its analytical history of World War I also surveys cutting edge political science research on international relations and the causes of war. Written by a leading game theorist known for his expertise of the war, this textbook includes useful student features such as chapter key terms, contemporary maps, a timeline of events, a list of key characters and additional end-of-chapter game-theoretic exercises.

    • Engages students with an interesting test case - World War I
    • Ties the underlying narrative of the war to a primer on basic game theory, teaching students how to use models to resolve puzzles so that students learn the basics of game theory together with the analytical value of using it
    • Uses simple math which is clearly explained with guided examples, benefiting those from non-technical backgrounds
    • Teaches students how to build theories, better preparing them to conduct their own research
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The Politics of the First World War uses game theory to resolve some enduring puzzles of the Great War, while simultaneously using the history of the war to teach game theory and to illuminate ongoing debates about international security. Wolford’s unique analytic synthesis greatly enhances our understanding and teaching of the theory and history of conflict.' Jack S. Levy, Rutgers University, New Jersey

    'The Politics of the First World War offers a creative approach to learning about international relations. It provides a clear and accessible introduction to game theory and international relations theory. The book’s rich history of World War I underscores that game theory can help us understand one of the most consequential events of the twentieth century.' Matthew Fuhrmann, Texas A & M University

    'Scott Wolford has written an accessible and engaging introduction to game theory. Set against the backdrop of World War I, the book explains what game theory is, how it works, and how it can help us understand important puzzles in international relations - and even manages to teach some history along the way. The chapters build technical knowledge gradually as the Great War unfolds, rages, and then ends ‘in a whimper'. The Politics of the First World War: A Course in Game Theory and International Security will be a very useful teaching tool for undergraduate and introductory graduate courses.' Katja B. Kleinberg, State University of New York, Binghamton

    'What a fabulous book Scott Wolford has written! While there are many competing textbooks to introduce students to international relations, there was no textbook for follow-up classes. There now is. Scott Wolford has written an engrossing and compelling book that masterfully weaves the events and puzzles of the First World War with a rigorous introduction to game theory. This is a fantastic idea and he pulls it off wonderfully. Students see the interaction and exchange between history and theory-building close up, in a way that makes both exciting. This book will change how students learn and how professors teach. I will make it the core of my own intermediate class.' Henk Goemans, University of Rochester

    'Scott Wolford uses an innovative puzzle-based pedagogy, and cutting-edge analytical tools, to introduce modern theories of international relations and security through the historical lens of World War I. His ‘real-time’ approach to teaching how leaders make decisions is simply the best I’ve seen, perfect for developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills in readers.' Toby J. Rider, Texas Tech University

    'A masterful yet accessible study in game theory and history that will be invaluable for undergraduate and graduate students. Truly one of a kind.' Amy Yuen, Middlebury College, Vermont

    'This is a superb book, a refreshing introduction to game theory, and an enlightening analysis of complex episodes in the unfolding of the First World War. A real tour de force.' Alexandre Debs, Yale University, Connecticut

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108444378
    • length: 464 pages
    • dimensions: 254 x 178 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.99kg
    • contains: 54 b/w illus. 10 maps
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the Great War
    2. The theory of War I: commitment problems
    3. Armed continent: the Anglo-German naval race
    4. Leaping into the dark: Europe goes to war
    5. The theory of World War II: information problems
    6. A scrap of paper: Belgium, France, and British entry
    7. Troubled partnerships: coalitions at war
    8. The best laid plans: attrition's static horror
    9. Choosing sides: building military coalitions
    10. Coordinating caution: naval war in the North Sea
    11. The theory of World War III: commitment and war termination
    12. The theory of World War IV: information and war termination
    13. Too proud to fight?: U-boats and American neutrality
    14. The end of the beginning: victory, defeat, and peace
    15. Conclusion: history and the present

  • Author

    Scott Wolford, University of Texas, Austin
    Scott Wolford is Associate Professor at the University of Texas, Austin. He published his first book, The Politics of Military Coalitions (Cambridge) in 2015, and has published articles in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, International Organization, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, and International Studies Quarterly, among others. He is a fellow of the Frank C. Irwin Chair in Government (2011–18), a recipient of the Best Paper in International Relations Award from the Midwest Political Science Association (2009), and a former Associate Editor for International Studies Quarterly.

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