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<em>Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd ed.</em>

BCSIA Communications Officer

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

Book, Longman

January 1999

Authors: Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, Philip D. Zelikow, Former Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Former Faculty Affiliate, International Security Program

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Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security



The single best 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 makers. The new edition of this best-selling text includes comprehensive synthesis of all new evidence— including recently declassified Kennedy tapes and Soviet files. Not only revised, but completely rewritten, the new edition provides deeper and clearer answers to an enduring question: how should citizens understand the actions of their governments?


"More than a revised edition, this is a new book, with the most recent empirical material and sophisticated theorizing. Important as it was, the original Essence of Decision now appears to have been a first draft; this version was worth waiting for."
--Robert Jervis, Columbia University

"The revised edition updates both the theory and the history in a compelling manner. It is an impressive achievement."
--Scott Sagan, Stanford University

"A lively updating of a classic, in many ways superior to the original."
--Richard K. Betts, Columbia University

"In this new analysis of organizational behavior, both the theory and the case study chapters are exceptionally well done. A page turner— the review of relevant literature is comprehensive, thoughtful, and original."
--Diane Vaughan, Boston College

"The rational choice movement in political science mostly extends and formalizes the Rational Actor Model articulated in Essence of Decision a quarter-century ago. The new edition of the book helps one understand why."
--Thomas C. Schelling, University of Maryland

BCSIA press release


For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at 617-495-1400.

For Academic Citation:

Allison, Graham T., and Philip Zelikow. Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd ed.. Reading, MA: Longman, January 1999.

Document Length: 416 pp.

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