Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis

Graham Allison and Philip Zelikow's case study of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis investigates how superpowers manage confrontation with one another. Robert Yin (2010) references this piece of research as a strong example of analytic generalisation, as the authors conclude that the lessons learned in this crisis could be extrapolated to similar situations of confrontations between superpowers.


"One of the most influental political science works written in the post World War II era, the original edition of Essence of Decision is a unique and fascinating examination of the pivotal event of the cold Cold War. Not simply revised, but completely re-written, the Second Edition of this classic text is a fresh reinterpretation of the theories and events surrounding the Cuban Missle Crisis, incorporating all new information from the Kennedy tapes and recently declassified Soviet files. Essence of Decision Second Edition, is a vivid look at decision-making under pressure and is the only single volume work that attempts to answer the enduring question: how should citizens understand the actions of their government?"

For more information on analytic generalisation see:

Analytic generalisation

Yin, R. (2010). 'Analytic Generalization.' In Albert J. Mills, G. Durepos, & E. Wiebe (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Case Study Research. (pp. 21-23). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. 


Allison, G. Zelikow, P. (1999). Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis [2nd Ed.]. Pearson Education.

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