Journal Article - Texas National Security Review

Book Review Roundtable: Tempting Fate

| Aug. 17, 2020

Why would a state that lacks nuclear weapons choose to fight a state that has them? In this roundtable, four scholars evaluate Paul Avey's explanation for this phenomenon.


Introduction: Crucial Calculations: Examining the Decision-Making Behind Nuclear Use in War by Rupal N. Mehta

1. The Limits of the Nuclear Shadow by Ariel F.W. Petrovics

2. What Military Confrontations Could Mean for Understanding the Nuclear Revolution by Alexander Lanoszka

3. Shedding Light on Nuclear Conflict by Reid Pauly

Tempting Fate Front Cover Image

Introduction: Crucial Calculations: Examining the Decision-Making Behind Nuclear Use in War

Rupal N. Mehta

Paul Avey’s new book Tempting Fate: Why Nonnuclear States Confront Nuclear Opponents answers one of the most important questions in grand strategy and nuclear security: Why do nuclear and non-nuclear states go to war?1 Anchored in the canonical literature on the consequences of nuclear weapons proliferation and contemporaneous debates about how these weapons can change the calculus of combat in wartime, Avey employs a methodical approach that produces a range of explanations about the variables impacting conflict.2 In addition to systematically addressing the limitations of existing explanations and drawing several counterintuitive conclusions, Avey clearly and persuasively details how conventionally inferior non-nuclear weapons states may possess an advantage in disputes with nuclear powers....

2 Bernard Brodie, ed, The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power and World Order (New York, N.Y.: Harcourt, Brace & Co Press, 1946); Kyle Beardsley and Victor Asal, "Winning with the Bomb," Journal of Conflict Resolution 53, no 2, (2009), 278–301,; Thomas C. Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960); James Fearon, "Rationalist Explanations for War," International Organization 4, no. 2 (Summer, 1995), 79–414,

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For Academic Citation:

Mehta, Rupal N., Ariel F.W. Petrovics, Alexander Lanoszka, and Reid Pauly. "Book Review Roundtable: Tempting Fate." Texas National Security Review, (August 17, 2020).

The Authors