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Examines the various factors that impelled leaders on both sides of the conflict in World War II to respond to immediate problems with actions resulting in effects that were often neither planned nor foreseen. Both Great Britain and Germany drifted into an escalation that ended in the wholesale bombardment of cities and civilian populations, when neither had originally planned any such action, and serves as the author’s lesson to show us how decisionmakers can respond once more to provocations and counterreactions. Emotional pressures, the fog of war, and judgments blurred by wishful thinking can produce decisions, even self-destructive decisions, and lead down an inexorable path to all-out, total war. More than thirty years after its initial publication, and to celebrate RAND’s 60th Anniversary, RAND is proud to bring this classic work back into print in paperback and digital formats.

This report is part of the RAND commercial book series. Periodically, RAND researchers publish with commercial presses. These books are not available from RAND but can be requested directly from the publisher, except in cases where the rights have reverted to RAND and we have republished a new edition.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.