Essence of Decision (Second Edition) by Graham Allison & Philip Zelikow. pages, New York: Longman, Reviewed by Barton J. Bernstein n Buy Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Alternative Etext Formats) 2 by Graham T. Allison, Philip Zelikow (ISBN: ) from. Graham T. Allison – The Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. Chapter (PDF . Philip!Zelikow,!it!introduces!some!new!insights!based!on!.

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Also, I learned a ton about the Cuban Missile Crisis! When he first wrote the book, Allison contended that political science and the study of international relations were saturated with rational expectations theories inherited from the field of economics. It is powerfully dry, and I found myself skimming the more theoretical chapters. To zelikow.esssnce other readers questions about Essence of Decisionplease sign up. Why is this divide never examined? Dec 11, Jared rated it really liked it Shelves: In the first section, the book makes a compelling case that Khrushchev’s decision to place missiles in Cuba had nothing to zrlikow.essence with protecting Cuba.

The work is protected by local and international copyright laws and dceision provided solely for the use of instructors in teaching their courses and assessing student learning. K School of Government at Harvard and I can see why.

Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis by Graham T. Allison

It is somewhat flawed, unfortunately: Rather it was an attempt to change the balance of missile power despite having run on the idea of a ‘Missile Gap’, the US actually had a tremendous nuclear advantage over the USSR at this point and ultimately strengthen Khrushchev’s hand when a conflict was anticipated to emerge over Berlin later in the year.

There is a large amount of rich You know declsion those big mouths with big guns who are ready to invade and kill anyone and everyone who threatens the U. I could only take the book’s claims about the missile crisis at face allson. The governmental politics section fleshes out the personalities and behaviors of the leaderships.

The three models are much indebted to key concepts from two-player game theory. The book will be especially illuminating for those who have only ever been exposed to the rational actor model. He is renowned for his contribution in the late s and early s to the bureaucratic analysis of decision making, especially during times of crisis.

To return tohe noted that the U. This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards. A blockade applied only to items not being transported to Berlin seems a logical middle ground.


His most salient point: I suppose if I were deciding whether to put missiles in Cuba, it would have been helpful. Jul 20, Mark Jacobsen rated it it was amazing. Allison attributes such viewpoints to the dominance of economists such as Milton Friedmanstatesmen such as Robert McNamara and Henry Kissingerdisciplines such as game theoryand organizations such as the RAND Corporation.

It aallison help give you a more nuanced approach through which to see political events. By examining it first through one set of conceptual lenses, then through a second, and finally through a third, he explores some of the fundamental zelikow.sesence often unrecognized choices among the categories and assumptions that channel our thinking and thus influence our decisions and the outcomes in situations such as the missile crisis.

He cited work by James G. While Allison did not claim that any of his additional two models could fully explain anything, he noted that policymakers and analysts alike would benefit from stepping away from the traditional model and exploring alternate viewpoints although this last remark could be viewed as facetious on Allison’s part. In other words, governments are made up of individual organizations that have ways of doing business and have competing interests.

I guess I can take some solace in the newly acquired knowledge that my decision will more likely be the result of set organizational processes or political bargaining by influential parties than rational choice. In Essence of DecisionAllison suggests that one reason for the popularity of rational decisoin models is that, compared to other models, they require relatively little data and provide researchers with an “inexpensive approximation” of the situation. Design and Methods Robert K.

This fascinating book is the Rashomon of foreign policy. Allison is best known as a political scientist for his book Essence of Decision: A qllison of material has appeared since the book was written on cognitive biases and irrational decision-making biases both in individuals and in groups zelikow.eessence threaten to undermine key suppositions in the three models.

The book explains how those models explain different parts of the Cuban missile crisis differently better? I enjoyed the book but struggled through the ‘model’ chapters. The kf is an analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis through three different lenses: While the treatment of the Cuban Missile Crisis is fascinating, the book’s greatest value is its presentation of multiple lenses for analyzing decisions: One of the most influental political science works written in the post World War II era, the original edition of Essence of Decision is a unique and fascinating examination of the pivotal event of the cold Cold War.


I believe the second and third models, while helpful in fleshing out background information and adding meat to the bones, are In this book, the author uses three models as lenses in trying to best explain the U.

You know all those big mouths with big guns who are ready to invade and kill anyone and everyone who threatens the U. In the absence of a number of particular characteristics of players and games, the action chosen would have been materially different. If nothing else, the book shows just how lucky the superpowers were in escaping nuclear war in October of However, the author seems to prefer the second and third models.

Nov 28, Mike Edwards rated it really liked it Shelves: It was not easy but by slowly looking at different policy aspects through the Cuban Missile Crisis, policy makes more sense to me. In Essence of Decision, Graham Allison leverages the incredible events of the Cuban Missile Crisis to challenge the way people think about foreign and military affairs.

I’ll leave the details for those interested enough in the subject to read it themselves. Organizational behavior explains identification of the problem on October 14 rather than two weeks earlier or later ; organizational routines defined the options; organizations implemented the blockade.

It’s pretty scary actually.

Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis

This book illustrates how decisions can be analyzed retrospectively, including a taste of how different theories of decision making will change what one concludes about what the actors involved must have believed and wanted. Also, Allison notes that “rational” analysts must ignore a lot of facts in order to make their analysis fit their models. This model relies on the belief that organizations are capable zelikow.essenc accomplishing very complex tasks zelikow.essencee they have developed standard aklison procedures.

I must confess that I was initially skeptical about how much value I would derive from this work. The primary argument, of course, is that the unitary rational actor model is woefully insufficient, as it neglects the important role that bureaucratic standard operating procedures and cultures play in shaping and constraining state action.