Cooperation Under Fire: Anglo-German Restraint During World War II

It is revealing that the author declares that "the Nazi state was vanquished without ever using its huge chemical arsenal." It most certainly did use such gruesome weapons--but only against the populations of the death camps, bereft of friends, weapons, or the frail shelter of belief in a common humanity. Legro is interested in the limited areas of mutual restraint shown by two of the great contestants of World War II, with regard to submarine operations, strategic bombing, and chemical warfare. In some instances (e.g., submarine attacks on merchant shipping) restraint was short lived; in others (chemical warfare) it was more durable. Legro, a political scientist, uses three conceptual lenses--realism, institutionalism, and organizational culture--to examine these cases. The cases are interesting and reasonably well-executed historical studies, drawing on primary as well as secondary sources, although the self-conscious social science structure is occasionally irritating. By dint of hard looking, the author finds more cooperation, and makes more of it, than most of his readers will. Legro views the mutual restraint shown by Germany and Great Britain as a "hopeful kernel" rather than an oddity or a distinctly minor aspect of World War II.

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