The Great Illusion

A Study of the Relation of Military Power to National Advantage

by Norman Angell

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Praise for the original edition:
“The author is enjoying the almost unlimited praise of his contemporaries, expressed or indicated by many men of eminence and influence, by countless reviewers who have lately hungered for a hero to worship.” (New York Times)

"an epoch-making book” (Boston Herald)

"master-piece" (The Cornell Daily Sun)

International trade and the development of intertwined global markets makes inter-state war less profitable and probable. This is Norman Angell's simple hypothesis, vigorously defended in The Great Illusion and at the root of an enduring controversy, from the time of its initial publication - on the eve of the First World War - to this day. Well documented, logically argued and persuasive, The Great Illusion is a passionate defense of peace, attacking widely held, yet unquestioned assumptions about the gains from war and the costs of conquest.

Part I. The Economics of the case
Chapter I. Statement of the economic case por war.
Chapter II. The axioms of modern statecraft.
Chapter III. The great illusion.
Chapter IV. The impossibility of confiscation.
Chapter V. Foreign trade and military power.
Chapter VI. The indemnity futility.
Chapter VII. How colonies are owned.
Chapter VIII. The fight for "the place in the sun".

PART II. The human nature and morals of the case
Chapter I. The psychological case for war.
Chapter II. The psychological case for peace.
Chapter III. Unchanging human nature.
Chapter IV. Do the warlike nations inherit the earth?.
Chapter V. The diminishing factor of physical force: psychological results.
Chapter VI. The state as a person: a false analogy and its consequences.

PART III. The practical outcome
Chapter I. The relation of defence to aggression.
Chapter II. Armement, but not alone armament.
Chapter III. Is the political reformation possible?
Chapter IV. Methods.

Appendix on recent events in Europe.

Sir Norman Angell (1873-1967) was a British economist best known for his work on international political economy. His dedication to the search for the foundations of lasting international peace earned him worldwide fame and the award of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1933. Among his better known ideas is the suggestion that modern economic order and inter-dependencies through trade had made war futile. Educated in France, London and Geneva, Angell pursued a career as a journalist in the United States writing for the St. Louis Globe Democrat and the San Francisco Chronicle, which would culminate in later years with senior assignments in the prestigious Galignani’s Messenger and Foreign Affairs. In between Angell wrote extensively on international peace, writing several successful books translated into more than 20 languages.

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

The Great Illusion

Book Subtitle

A Study of the Relation of Military Power to National Advantage





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

December 2013