In This Review

Misfortunes of War: Press and Public Reactions to Civilian Deaths in Wartime
Misfortunes of War: Press and Public Reactions to Civilian Deaths in Wartime
By Eric V. Larson and Bogdan Savych
RAND, 2007, 295 pp

This is a substantial study of the important question of public reactions to incidents in war that result in substantial civilian casualties. After considering the full range of reactions to high-profile incidents in the Gulf War, Kosovo, and the Iraq war, the authors conclude that the public understands the issues and difficulties perfectly well, despite the media's fixation on these incidents and the attempt by adversaries to exploit them. Reactions ultimately depend on whether the public believes that attempts are being made to limit civilian casualties (rather than depending on the number of civilian casualties). The problem, which has become more serious since the main case studies covered in this book, is that foreign audiences may not be so understanding or so ready to trust the U.S. military.