By Carter Malkasian
A war of attrition is usually conceptualized as a bloody slogging match, epitomized by imagery of futile frontal assaults on the Western Front of the First World War. As such, many academics, politicians, and military officers currently consider attrition to be a wholly undesirable method of warfare. This first book-length study of wars of attrition challenges this viewpoint. A historical analysis of the strategic thought behind attrition demonstrates that it was often implemented to conserve casualties, not to engage in a bloody, senseless assault. Moreover, attrition frequently proved an effective means of attaining a state's political aims in warfare, particularly in serving as a preliminary to decisive warfare, reducing risk of escalation, and coercing an opponent in negotiations.