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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The tapes and other newly declassified documents reveal a more complex set of options than previously understood, including two critically different variants of the blockade.

In retrospect, I should have tracked down a program in Decision O instead, but hindsight is 20 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.

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 is a work that offers no conclusive advice on how to approach policymaking, yet Allison and Zelikow have utilized modernity-based models and economics to endorse a sort of post-modern inconclusiveness.

A great book on leadership, decision making, and the Cuban missile crisis.

Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis

In response, Allison constructed three different ways or “lenses” through which analysts can examine events: This is the idea that any nuclear showdown is a game of chicken, in which the side with the least to lose will refuse to back down.

Those interested in decision theory and cognition as applied to political problems. The book is part of an ongoing argument between supporters of rational expectations theories and analysts who look for alternative explanations. Likewise, the political process model explained otherwise confusing affairs. Published January 29th by Pearson first published For example, the units were instructed by their commanders that speed took priority over stealth.

Essence of Decision – Wikipedia

Jul 12, Mark Uberuaga rated it really liked it Shelves: However, the author zelioow.essence to prefer the second and third models. Refresh and try again. Well-written and incredibly clever, this is a creative and intriguing work. The three models are much indebted to key concepts from two-player game theory. The governmental politics section fleshes out the personalities and behaviors of the leaderships.


Put simply, zelikowessence authors never explicitly recognize how their models are based in a western economic tradition. Or, to put it bluntly, this approach which Allison terms the “Rational Actor Model” violates the principle of falsifiability. His most salient point: Table of Contents 1.

Allison & Zelikow, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd Edition | Pearson

Under such a view, the actions of states are analyzed by assuming that nations consider all options and act rationally to maximize their utility. Also fascinating is the fact that Kennedy’s offer to trade the missiles in Turkey for the ones in Cuba was made without the knowledge of most of his advisers.

I believe the RAM Model works best. The book is rich indeed as it not only brings up one key incident after another but in its attempts to adapt game theory to a complex crisis situation by working in aspects such as values, incomplete information, uncertainty, blinkered institutional inertia, deadlines, intelligence evaluation, the relative opaqueness of most of the actors on the Soviet side as compared to the US side, political bargaining, power differences, the use of formal and informal channels of communication, empathy and so on.

Not Bad Reviews blakerosser Allison used the crisis as a case study for future studies into governmental decision-making.

The best single volume analyzing the defining moment in the nuclear age, the original edition of Essence of Decision is a classic work that has influenced generations of students, scholars, and policy Read, highlight, and take notes, across web, tablet, and phone.

Ideally, one should use all three models, and perhaps more, in examining the Cuban Missile Crisis and other foreign policy events. No eBook available Amazon. A wealth of material has appeared since the book was written on cognitive biases zeliko.essence irrational decision-making biases both in individuals and in groups which threaten to undermine key suppositions in the three models.


There are players in the game.

I enjoyed the book but struggled through the ‘model’ chapters. Pearson offers special pricing when you package your text with other student resources. Also, I learned a ton about the Cuban Missile Crisis! Also writes under the name Graham Allison.

Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd Edition

The analyst emphasizes organizational capacities and constraints both in choice and implementation. And while I’m openly criticizing, being able to have a beer with an individual should not be the qualifying factor that elects her or him president. The reason was not a “rational” change in U. We all know them. See 1 question about Essence of Decision…. Decisions maybe the sum of several other lesser actions by people in a zelikowessence.

This is the idea that the USSR would have never escalated the crisis because that would have meant the destruction of half the planet. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. From inside the book. 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 yet 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 deicsion.

The organizational behavior theory section comes off as a long list of ‘shit that organizations do sometimes’ the governmental politics section also has one of these long ass lists.

It is powerfully dry, and I found myself skimming the more theoretical chapters.

These are indeed important examples of events that happen to leaders rather than vice versa. With more details about the chronology of Soviet decisionmaking and the particular deployment, the Cuban defense hypothesis becomes less plausible and the missile power hypothesis more.