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October 03 , 2008

Brains & Bullets

How psychology wins wars


This book is the story of how Western armies forgot how to fight real people. It is not about generals and strategies; it is focused on small groups of men in desperate situations and how they use their brains and their bullets to make the enemy surrender.' The closer people get to war the less they like it. The human brain is hard-wired with a primal, almost imperceptible aversion to killing and an intense aversion to being killed. In order to win wars, vast effort and uncountable sums have been expended to try and quash these reactions in our soldiers. For years, this research focused on two questions: 'Who fights?' and 'How can we make more people fight?' In Brains & Bullets, military psychologist Leo Murray argues that, given the right conditions, everybody fights. Change those conditions, however, and almost everybody will stop fighting. If we really want to win wars, the question we ought to be asking is: 'How do we make the enemy stop fighting?' Interweaving intense first-hand accounts of combat with the hard science of tactical psychology, this extensively researched study offers a fascinating insight into what war does to the human mind. Most crucially, it also suggests a new way to approach military conflict - one which comes too late to change the outcome of the war in Afghanistan, but which may well have a profound effect on the future of modern warfare.
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