Identity, Interest & Action: A Cultural Explanation of Sweden's Intervention in the Thirty Years War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996/2008)

In 1630 a Swedish army under the command of king Gustav II Adolf crossed the Baltic Sea and landed in Germany. Sweden, at the time, was one of the poorest and most peripheral countries in Europe. They were going to war against the Habsburg Emperor in Vienna, the most powerful man on the Continent. The question is why. Why did Sweden go to war in 1630. This book tells the story.

Quotes

"Why are there wars? Why have human beings in practically all times and places seen it fit to kill each other, not just on an individual and one-on-one basis, but as a matter of official policy, backed up by the full resources of a community, a city or a state?"
"Yet there is another possibility. The fact that wars ap­pear as irrational may in fact tell us very little about the stupid­ity or unreasonableness of human beings and very much about the limits of our contemporary explanatory accounts. The deficiency may rest not with the soldiers or with those who order them into battle, but rather with the scholars who attempt to explain these actions."
"Yet there is another possibility. The fact that wars ap­pear as irrational may in fact tell us very little about the stupid­ity or unreasonableness of human beings and very much about the limits of our contemporary explanatory accounts. The deficiency may rest not with the soldiers or with those who order them into battle, but rather with the scholars who attempt to explain these actions."
"Yet there is another possibility. The fact that wars ap­pear as irrational may in fact tell us very little about the stupid­ity or unreasonableness of human beings and very much about the limits of our contemporary explanatory accounts. The deficiency may rest not with the soldiers or with those who order them into battle, but rather with the scholars who attempt to explain these actions."
"At the core of this alternative theory stands the suggestion that people act not only in order to win things, but also in order to defend a certain conception of who they are. We act not only be­cause there are things we want to have, but also because there are persons we want to be."
"At the core of this alternative theory stands the suggestion that people act not only in order to win things, but also in order to defend a certain conception of who they are. We act not only be­cause there are things we want to have, but also because there are persons we want to be."

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