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The Strategy of Conflict Paperback – Jun 14 1981


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (June 14 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674840313
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674840317
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 14.1 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #116,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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By M. Rizvi on Oct. 13 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a fairly complicated book - more like a PhD/Masters thesis. The concepts are useful but not described well. Things are made complicated, sometimes unnecessarily so.
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Format: Paperback
Since its first publication in 1960, the strategy of Conflict is still relevant today. His concepts of strategic moves and random strategy can still be applied to the increasing complicated international affairs. It's definitely a timeless classic for game theoretical study of international relations.
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By A Customer on Dec 6 2002
Format: Paperback
I disagree with the review that describes Schelling's primary contribution here as the idea of focal points. This is one of the key insights in the book, but only one. He also has a fascinating discussion of threats, promises, and credibility and the relation of these issues to national security issues. The connection is explored further in Schelling's Arms and Influence, while this book is more theoretical in its orientation. I highly recommend this book to anyone who knows a little game theory but is frustrated by the level of abstraction which pervades the theory.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Everyone should read this book Sept. 7 2006
By P.C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The Strategy of Conflict" changed the development of game theory in several ways, but none was more important than Schelling's focus on real life examples, situations or games that are relevant to what we encounter in our daily lives. Before Schelling, game theory analysis was abstract and mathematical; it focused on zero-sum games, where interests were purely conflicting and there were no incentives to cooperate. Game theorists built convincing abstract models for these types of games, but its application was limited, since most interactions were a mixture of conflict and mutual dependence. In other words, analysis focused on pure conflict, a limiting cases of real world interactions, while in "The Strategy of Conflict" Schelling attempts to generalize game theory analysis to richer games that are `played' in the real world. His generalization introduced the concepts, commitments, threats, promises, communication systems, focal points, and randomization of strategies into game theory (chapters 1~8), which was then used to analyze the its applications in national security (chapters 9 and 10).

If you are studying game theory, this book is a must read. If you are just interested in game theory, I'd recommend reading this book too.
97 of 108 people found the following review helpful
Schelling�s major contribution to game theory Aug. 6 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Schelling's major contribution to game theory (and the study of culture) was the concept of focal points. He observed that in real life bargaining each player would rather make a concession than fail to reach any agreement at all. And there are a wide range of outcomes that would be preferable to both of them than no agreement at all. Now without some procedure to select among those acceptable alternatives, people might never come to a satisfactory agreement. This is where the key concept of "focal points" comes into play. Schelling defines focal points as "intuitively perceived mutual expectations, shared appreciations, preoccupations, obsessions, and sensitivities to suggestion." He criticized traditional game theorists for failing to recognize that "players" actually achieve much better coordination and cooperation when they are able to rely upon focal points. Although he does not make this analogy, it seems that focal points represent some sort of a "templat! e" or "blueprint" that helps to unify understanding and coordinate action. However, for Schelling, "focal points" are quite arbitrary-whether and to what degree they serve to coordinate action and expectations is the key question.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
fascinating Dec 6 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I disagree with the review that describes Schelling's primary contribution here as the idea of focal points. This is one of the key insights in the book, but only one. He also has a fascinating discussion of threats, promises, and credibility and the relation of these issues to national security issues. The connection is explored further in Schelling's Arms and Influence, while this book is more theoretical in its orientation. I highly recommend this book to anyone who knows a little game theory but is frustrated by the level of abstraction which pervades the theory.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
enjoyable game theory April 24 2010
By Grant Gibbs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Other reviewers have explained Schelling's insights, so I won't bother to touch on them.

Often you read books where economists find new applications for known principles. Often you read books where economists lay down some new insight they've had into what can be a very technical field.

Strategy of Conflict does both. Schelling does a wonderful job finding applications for *new* insights and explaining them in a readable way.
20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Major contribution and still relevant after decades Nov. 8 2003
By Bill Jia Xie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Since its first publication in 1960, the strategy of Conflict is still relevant today. His concepts of strategic moves and random strategy can still be applied to the increasing complicated international affairs. It's definitely a timeless classic for game theoretical study of international relations.

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