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The Politics of the First World War

A Course in Game Theory and International Security

Scott Wolford (University of Texas, Austin)



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Cambridge University Press
21 February 2019
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.
By:   Scott Wolford (University of Texas Austin)
Imprint:   Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 261mm,  Width: 184mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   1.120kg
ISBN:   9781108426015
ISBN 10:   1108426018
Pages:   464
Publication Date:   21 February 2019
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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.

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

'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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