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By approaching an important foreign policy issue from a new angle, Jonathan Mercer comes to a startling, controversial discovery: a nation's reputation is not worth fighting for. He presents a comprehensive examination of what defines a reputation, when it is likely to emerge in international politics, and with what consequences.
Mercer examines reputation formation in a series of crises before World War I, testing competing argumentsone from deterrence theory, the other from social psychologyto see which better predicts and explains how reputations form. He extends his findings to address contemporary crises such as the Gulf War, and considers how culture, gender, and nuclear weapons affect reputation. Throughout history, wars have been fought in the name of reputation. Mercer rebuts this politically powerful argument, shows that reputations form differently than we thought, and offers policy advice to decision-makers.