The Art of Political Warfare

John J. Pitney, Jr., Author
John J. Pitney, Jr., Author University of Oklahoma Press $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8061-3263-1
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 246 pages - 978-0-8061-3382-9
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""Politics,"" writes Pitney (professor of government McKenna College), ""resembles warfare""--therefore ""military literature can teach us something about politics."" Observing that politicians consciously embrace warlike language and strategies, and that warfare is often used as a metaphor to help explain political activity, and that Pitney, a former researcher for the Republican National Committee, offers a close analysis of this connection. Weaving together quotes from military strategists and political theorists (like Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli) with commentary by recent and not-so-recent political figures (like Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight Eisenhower, Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton), Pitney offers insight and advice for campaigners and political junkies alike. More scholarly than practical, however, Pitney delves deepest into the military metaphor in American politics, dividing his discussion into military-themed sections such as strategy, ""rallying the troops,"" and intelligence. He compares how each of his many terms is applied in both a military and a political context. His analysis includes often engaging anecdotes of political skirmishes and victories. For instance, he relates community organizer Saul Alinsky's triumph over the Chicago city government's recalcitrance about keeping a promise made to a ghetto organization: Alinsky threatened to organize an occupation of all the toilets at O'Hare airport, and the city capitulated. But along the way, Pitney overwhelms the reader with examples. His arguments are unlikely to change the nature of political science, or to encourage scholars to break away from more traditional economic models in their work; but it's entertaining to watch him try. (Sept.)
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