Kristian Skrede Gleditsch
University of Essex & PRIO
This book aims to provide a nontechnical introduction for undergraduate students on key concepts and issues in conflict studies. We already have several other volumes aimed at conveying what we know about war to undergraduate students. I will confess to opening this book with some skepticism as to whether new efforts could have clear added value. After reading my answer is a clear ‘yes’. The book is an excellent collection of well-written and clearly focused chapters. It is not possible to summarize the range of topics covered, but a key highlight is Reiter’s bargaining and war chapter, which provides the best discussion with examples that I have ever read and will go straight on my next syllabus. Other contributions provide insightful overviews of specific topics such as public opinion, civil war, and environment and conflict. Not everything will be adequately covered by this book alone – the chapter on bargaining could have benefitted from considering complications arising when actors are collectives rather than unitary actors, and the discussion on public opinion and conflict is very US centric and lacks a comparative focus. But the book succeeds in its aims of conveying ideas and research findings clearly without expectations of research methods training. But most importantly, it is likely to stimulate further interest and encourage students to become engaged in research.