The patterns that emerge from the nine case studies are not simple ones. Some of the same factors and pressures appear again and again, though the balance among them and the ultimate outcome vary greatly. We see how often devastation has served as a tool of coercive diplomacy, but also how logistic considerations have greatly affected the calculus of pillage versus restraint. The importance of precedent, of culture, of ideology or morality, and of morale become clear.
This book addresses crucial issues in an era in which historians have come to appreciate that a full understanding of war must address its victims as well as its victors, and when policymakers are perhaps more concerned than ever with minimizing the impact of war on civilian society.