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Targeting Civilians in War


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Defining and Explaining Civilian Victimization 2. Statistical Tests: Civilian Victimization, Mass Killing, and Civilian Casualties in Interstate Wars 3. The Starvation Blockades of World War I: Britain and Germany 4. Strategic Bombing in World War II: The Firebombing of Japan and the Blitz 5. Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Civilian Victimization: The Second Anglo-Boer War 6. Territorial Annexation and Civilian Victimization: The Founding of the State of Israel, 1947-49 7. Negative Cases: Why Civilian Victimization Doesn't Happen Conclusion Notes Index

About the Author

Alexander B. Downes, a winner of the Helen Dwight Reid Award, is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke University.


"This is a magnificent work and towering achievement. With both innovative historical studies and comprehensive statistical analysis, Downes powerfully demonstrates an original and disturbing thesis-that democracies are just as likely as autocracies to target civilians in war, and even more so when they fear that they will lose. All scholars of international security and military history should read this book, and we would all benefit if policy advisors did also."-James Kurth, Claude Smith Professor of Political Science, Swarthmore College "This is a powerful and disturbing study of the dark side of democracy. 'Democratic Peace Theory' has shown that democracies rarely fight each other. Alexander B. Downes demonstrates, however, that when democracies do go to war, they often fight with their gloves off, ignoring principles of noncombatant immunity."-Scott D. Sagan, Stanford University "In twenty years, people wanting to understand the critically important subject of civilian victimization will turn to this book. Alexander B. Downes argues that the decision to victimize civilians depends primarily on the strategic incentives to do so, regardless of whether the countries involved are democratic. Downes also finds that factors relating to 'identity'-whether the enemy is a different race or culture-are also insignificant. Targeting Civilians in War will become a classic in the field of security studies."-Daryl G. Press, Dartmouth College, author of Calculating Credibility: How Leaders Assess Military Threats

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