Dr. Justin Conrad's new book, Gambling and War: Risk, Reward, and Chance in International Conflict, brings readers a war college course taught at a Las Vegas casino. To succeed in poker, it is not enough to simply anticipate the actions of other players and try to outsmart them. A successful player must also understand and appreciate the role of randomness. Additionally, players must confront the reality that all human beings are prone to errors in judgment, which cause them to make suboptimal choices under many circumstances. Taken together, these challenges make poker a fascinating and highly unpredictable game, much like the dynamics of international conflict. Any comprehensive analysis of why wars occur and how they are fought must consider a variety of factors including strategy, human error, and dumb luck.
Gambling and War applies lessons learned from poker, blackjack, roulette, and other games of chance to the study of international conflict. Drawing on scholarly insights from a variety of fields, including probability, statistics, political science, psychology, and economics, the book offers thoughts on how we can better manage and prevent international conflict, the costliest game of all.