The Logic of Violence in Civil War

The Logic of Violence in Civil War By analytically decoupling war and violence this book explores the causes and dynamics of violence in civil war Against the prevailing view that such violence is an instance of impenetrable madness

  • Title: The Logic of Violence in Civil War
  • Author: Stathis N. Kalyvas
  • ISBN: 9780521670043
  • Page: 420
  • Format: Paperback
  • By analytically decoupling war and violence, this book explores the causes and dynamics of violence in civil war Against the prevailing view that such violence is an instance of impenetrable madness, the book demonstrates that there is logic to it and that it has much less to do with collective emotions, ideologies, and cultures than currently believed Kalyvas specifiesBy analytically decoupling war and violence, this book explores the causes and dynamics of violence in civil war Against the prevailing view that such violence is an instance of impenetrable madness, the book demonstrates that there is logic to it and that it has much less to do with collective emotions, ideologies, and cultures than currently believed Kalyvas specifies a novel theory of selective violence it is jointly produced by political actors seeking information and individual civilians trying to avoid the worst but also grabbing what opportunities their predicament affords them Violence, he finds, is never a simple reflection of the optimal strategy of its users its profoundly interactive character defeats simple maximization logics while producing surprising outcomes, such as relative nonviolence in the frontlines of civil war.

    One thought on “The Logic of Violence in Civil War”

    1. A brilliant, indispensable book for anyone who covers, studies, or cares about modern conflict. Chapter 2, on the biases of studying civil war, is alone worth the price of admission. Kalyvas convincingly argues, among other things, to de-emphasize the role of ideology in analysis and for a hyper-local perspective to understand the logic of violence in civil war. And his chapters on coercion and control help illuminate war-time dynamics in places like Afghanistan or Syria far better than most boo [...]

    2. A very solidly argued examination of the sources of violence in civil war. Although it was a significant undertaking to get through, this may be one of the best-structured political science books I’ve read to date — the author lays out his concepts, proceeds methodically through alternative hypotheses, spells out his theory and then drills down into a detailed case study analysis based on quantitative and qualitative research, closing out with two chapters further unpacking the theory’s im [...]

    3. Kalyvas seeks to understand the nature of strategic violence in civil wars, while also attempting to explain the reasons that violence in civil wars is more intense than in intrastate conflicts. It asserts that a key reason for this is the dual processes of segmentation (zones controlled monopolistically by rival actors) as well as fragmentation (dual sovereignty on overlapping territory). It also argues that violence is most likely in an area where one side has a near hegemonic control, as viol [...]

    4. There is a lot in this book. At it's core Kalyvas presents an original rationalist explanation on a narrow and well-defined aspect of violence in civil wars - that of selective violence. While his theory is convincing, I particularly enjoyed his very extensive literature review and the overall novelty of his research design and methodology.

    5. Loved it. Among other things, Kalyvas introduces a theory of violence in civil wars that asserts that selective violence (versus discriminate) is "jointly produced by political actors seeking information and individual noncombatants trying to avoid the worst but also grabbing what opportunities their predicament affords them." (inside cover) Bottom line: violence in civil wars is a two-way street with political actors manipulating local leaders in pursuit of information needed to perpetrate sele [...]

    6. In this book Kalyvas introduces his readers to a startling and de-idealized new vision of the mechanics of civil war. Through a great deal of research, both localized in Greece and more far-ranging, Kalyvas has come to the idea that the great majority of modern civil war violence is related less to such highly-regarded factors as ideology, class, or ethnicity as it is to the war's endogenous realities. That is, a village will tend to follow the lead of whatever power occupies it at any given tim [...]

    7. First, this is a social science book. It has large-N studies and charts and statistics. If you're not into that, you will probably end up skipping around in the chapters. That being said, Kalyvas kindly structured his chapters in clearly demarcated sections with easily identifiable conclusions. If you don't want to peruse the statistics, you can skip right to the results.Second, for anyone who has spent any time breaking apart the complexity of a local environment, this book will have few, if an [...]

    8. Loved the organization of this book. Wonderful layout and presentation of the argument. In the end his two theories (1) Irregular warfare based on collaboration & control and then on selective violence are very useful in disecting the dynamics of violence in civil war. I don't understand his modelof selective violence, but I get the point of the model which is to tell us something about the cross-national variation in violence. Based on the variable of indiscriminate violence and control we [...]

    9. Recommended reading for anyone interested in understanding the complexity of counterinsurgency.Kalyvas clarifies the tenuous games that civilians must play as counterinsurgents (incumbents) and insurgents vie for their allegiance. His research is think; he uses dozens of historical cases to determine the patterns of interaction that we still see today. Written in 2007, his research and conclusions are absolutely applicable to today.We read this in the US Army SAMS program. All of us with experie [...]

    10. The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Analytically separates violence and civil war. Where does violence occur, when, why cannot be explained by the original causes of war!!! (SO simple, yet powerful observation.) He builds a model to look at this still reading it.

    11. Pretty good. Approaches a topic for which the evidence is mostly qualitative with a quantitative eye, mixed in with various logical hypotheses etc.

    12. I consider this pretty much the core text for this subject and heavily recommend all IR students read it no matter what they study or their theoretical persuasion.

    13. Far too long. The numerous small examples from various historical cases start to really big the narrative down. Interesting overall empirical insights and theory.

    14. Great book if you are looking for an extremely technical study of levels of violence in civil conflict. Otherwise, pretty rough to get through.

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