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Description - Thomas Schelling and the Nuclear Age by Robert Ayson

This book provides an insight into the work of Thomas Schelling, one of the most influential strategic thinkers of the nuclear age. By the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the United States' early forays into Vietnam, he had become one of the most distinctive voices in Western strategy. This book shows how Schelling's thinking is much more than a reaction to the tensions of the Cold War. In a demonstration that ideas can be just as significant as superpower politics, Robert Ayson traces the way this Harvard University professor built a unique intellectual framework using a mix of social-scientific reasoning, from economics to social theory and psychology. As such, this volume offers a rare glimpse into the intellectual history which underpins classical thinking on nuclear strategy and arms control - thinking which still has an enormous influence in the early twenty-first century. The reader is shown how Thomas Schelling's continuing fascination with 'stability' - whereby war is either prevented from occurring in the first place or controlled before catastrophe strikes - is the master concept to unlocking his compelling strategic universe. At the height of Cold War tensions, the notion that stability was even possible was nothing short of revolutionary. But for Schelling the stalemate of the Korean War could also be found in the superpower bargain of nuclear deterrence. As this book shows, the first glimpses of this approach pre-date Schelling's earliest study of military problems. In fact, stability was present when he published his very first article - on national income economics - in the 1940s. This book is unique in placing the development of US strategic thought in the context of a broader history of ideas. In unwrapping Thomas Schelling's ideas, it not only helps us understand the intellectual horsepower behind the 'golden age' of nuclear strategy, but also says much about the evolution of American social-scientific thinking in the twentieth century. This is the first book-length treatment of the work of Thomas Schelling and will be essential reading for all serious students of strategic studies, international relations and ancillary disciplines, such as the history of the social sciences, Cold War history and the history of ideas.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780714655161
ISBN-10: 0714655163
Format: Hardback
(234mm x 156mm x mm)
Pages: 248
Imprint: Frank Cass Publishers
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publish Date: 1-Jul-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Robert Ayson

Robert Ayson is Professor and Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. He was for many years the Director of Studies with the Australian National University's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He has also taught at Massey University and Waikato University and worked as a New Zealand government official. This book is based on a doctoral dissertation he completed as a Commonwealth Scholar at King's College London. Also the author of a study of the thinking of Hedley Bull, a contemporary of Schelling's, his main research interests are strategic concepts, nuclear issues, Asia-Pacific regional security and Australasian defence policies.

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