Castles, Battles, and Bombs: How Economics Explains Military History

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University of Chicago Press, Nov 15, 2008 - History - 424 pages

Castles, Battles, and Bombs reconsiders 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 High Middle Ages seems almost inevitable: though stunningly expensive, a strong castle was far cheaper to maintain than a standing army. 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.

"In bringing economics into assessments of military history, [the authors] also bring illumination. . . . [The authors] turn their interdisciplinary lens on the mercenary arrangements of Renaissance Italy; the wars of Marlborough, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon; Grant's campaigns in the Civil War; and the strategic bombings of World War II. The results are invariably stimulating."—Martin Walker, Wilson Quarterly

"This study is serious, creative, important. As an economist I am happy to see economics so professionally applied to illuminate major decisions in the history of warfare."—Thomas C. Schelling, Winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics


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Castles, battles, & bombs: how economics explains military history

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Brauer (economics) and van Tuyll (history), professors at Augusta State University, GA, here examine military history from the Middle Ages to the present through the lens of economics, intending to ... Read full review


The High Middle Ages 10001300 The Case of the Medieval Castle and the Opportunity Cost of Warfare
The Renaissance 13001600 The Case of the Condottieri and the Military Labor Market
The Age of Battle 16181815 The Case of Costs Benefits and the Decision to Offer Battle
The Age of Revolution 17891914 The Case of the American Civil War and the Economics of Information Asymmetry
The Age of the World Wars 19141945 The Case of Diminishing Marginal Returns to the Strategic Bombing of Germany in World War II
The Age of the Cold War 19451991 The Case of CapitalLabor Substitution and Frances Force de Frappe
Economics and Military History in the Twentyfirst Century

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About the author (2008)

Jurgen Brauer is professor of economics in the James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta State University and the author of Arms Trade and Economic Development. Hubert P. van Tuyll is professor of history and chair of the Department of History, Anthropology, and Philosophy at Augusta State University. He is the author of The Netherlands and World War I.

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