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Review Essay

The Drone Revolution

Less Than Meets the Eye

In This Review

The Drone Debate: A Primer on the U.S. Use of Unmanned Aircraft Outside Conventional Battlefields
The Drone Debate: A Primer on the U.S. Use of Unmanned Aircraft Outside Conventional Battlefields
By Avery Plaw, Matthew S. Fricker, and Carlos R. Colon
Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, 348 pp. Purchase
Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know
Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know
By Sarah Kreps
Oxford University Press, 2016, 224 pp. Purchase
Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone
Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone
By Scott Shane
Tim Duggan Books, 2015, 416 pp. Purchase
The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program
The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program
By Jeremy Scahill and the Staff of The Intercept
Simon & Schuster, 2016, 256 pp. Purchase
Drone: Remote Control Warfare
Drone: Remote Control Warfare
By Hugh Gusterson
MIT Press, 2016, 216 pp. Purchase
Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution
Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution
By Richard Whittle
Henry Holt, 2014, 368 pp. Purchase
Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars
Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars
By Chris Woods
Oxford University Press, 2015, 416 pp. Purchase
Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy
Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy
Edited by Peter L. Bergen and Daniel Rothenberg
Cambridge University Press, 2014, 496 pp. Purchase
Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict: Ethical, Legal, and Strategic Implications
Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict: Ethical, Legal, and Strategic Implications
Edited by David Cortright, Rachel Fairhurst, and Kristen Wall
Chicago University Press, 2015, 288 pp. Purchase

It is a measure of how much the United States’ security has improved since the more dangerous moments of the Cold War that the most troublesome issues in the military field today concern not weapons of mass destruction but targeted killing. The power that comes with access to the nuclear codes, of course, remains foremost when considering a presidential candidate’s fitness for office. Yet no American leader has authorized the use of nuclear weapons since 1945. The last two U.S. presidents have regularly authorized the elimination of alleged Islamist terrorists.

The U.S. government has assassinated jihadists through a variety of means, including Special Forces and attack helicopters. But drones have become its new weapon of choice. This has prompted a large body of literature exploring the ethical, legal, and strategic dilemmas that these weapons pose. Some of these books, such as The Drone Debate, by the political scientists

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In This Review

The Drone Debate: A Primer on the U.S. Use of Unmanned Aircraft Outside Conventional Battlefields
The Drone Debate: A Primer on the U.S. Use of Unmanned Aircraft Outside Conventional Battlefields
By Avery Plaw, Matthew S. Fricker, and Carlos R. Colon
Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, 348 pp. Purchase
Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know
Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know
By Sarah Kreps
Oxford University Press, 2016, 224 pp. Purchase
Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone
Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone
By Scott Shane
Tim Duggan Books, 2015, 416 pp. Purchase
The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program
The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program
By Jeremy Scahill and the Staff of The Intercept
Simon & Schuster, 2016, 256 pp. Purchase
Drone: Remote Control Warfare
Drone: Remote Control Warfare
By Hugh Gusterson
MIT Press, 2016, 216 pp. Purchase
Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution
Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution
By Richard Whittle
Henry Holt, 2014, 368 pp. Purchase
Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars
Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone Wars
By Chris Woods
Oxford University Press, 2015, 416 pp. Purchase
Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy
Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, and Policy
Edited by Peter L. Bergen and Daniel Rothenberg
Cambridge University Press, 2014, 496 pp. Purchase
Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict: Ethical, Legal, and Strategic Implications
Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict: Ethical, Legal, and Strategic Implications
Edited by David Cortright, Rachel Fairhurst, and Kristen Wall
Chicago University Press, 2015, 288 pp. Purchase

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