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The Essential Herman Kahn

In Defense of Thinking

Edited by Paul Dragos Aligica and Kenneth R. Weinstein

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By the time of his untimely death in 1983, Herman Kahn was recognized by both friends and intellectual adversaries as "one of the world's most creative and best minds." The current growing resurgence of interest in Kahn's ideas and intellectual legacy demonstrates the enduring relevance of his work. Yet, in spite of the constant influence of his arguments, there is a shortage of books summarizing Kahn's essential contributions, and thus his work is not as well known as it should be.

The Essential Herman Kahn is an attempt to cope with this predicament and offer the public for the first time an anthology consisting of the essence of Kahn's work, organized thematically. The two decades that have passed since his death allow us today to approach his work undisturbed by the "sound and fury" of the many public debates and controversies he participated in and to focus on some of the deepest and most enduring dimensions of his intellectual contributions. The anthology will try to bring together, out of the several thousands pages published by Kahn during his life, the "essential Kahn," the most relevant, consequential and interesting themes, ideas and arguments defining his legacy. As such it will met the needs of those who are interested in Kahn's work but do not have the time and energy to access his out-of-print books, to make their way through the voluminous number of pages, and then to sort out the essential from the accidental, the perennial from the contextual.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 286Size: 6 3/4 x 9 3/8
978-0-7391-2828-2 • Hardback • May 2009 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-7391-2829-9 • Paperback • June 2009 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
978-0-7391-3514-3 • eBook • June 2009 • $37.99 • (£24.95)
Paul Dragos Aligica is senior fellow at the Mercatus Center of George Washington University, faculty fellow at the James Buchanan Center for Political Economy, associate faculty at the Center for Global Studies at George Mason University, and adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Kenneth R. Weinstein is chief executive officer of the Hudson Institute.
Chapter 1 Introduction
Part 2 Section 1. Thinking About the Unthinkable: Scenarios, Grand Strategy, and Thermonuclear War
Chapter 3 In Defense of Thinking
Chapter 4 Twelve Nonissues and Twelve Almost Nonissues
Chapter 5 The Revolution in Warfare: Continuities and Discontinuities
Chapter 6 On Escalation
Chapter 7 Seizing the Moral, Political, and Strategic High Ground
Part 8 Section 2. A World Turning Point: Economic Growth, Cultural Change, and the Long View
Chapter 9 The Big Picture—And Some Details: Watersheds of History
Chapter 10 Viewing Growth in Context
Chapter 11 Four Characteristic Views of Two Basic Images of the Earth-Centered Perspective
Chapter 12 Some Current Cultural Contradictions of Economic Growth: The New Emphases
Chapter 13 Economic Development: Economic and Cultural Parameters
Chapter 14 The Alienated-Affluent Society
Part 15 Section 3. The Challenge of the Future: Futurology, Methodology, and Policy Research
Chapter 16 The Objectives of Future-Oriented Policy Research
Chapter 17 The Agnostic Use of Information and Concepts
Chapter 18 Forecasting the Future. History Happens in Straight Lines and Curves
Chapter 19 A Methodological Framework: The Alternative World Futures Approach
Chapter 20 The Method of Classes of Variables
Chapter 21 Ways to Go Wrong
Chapter 22 Technological Innovation: Mistakes of Omission and Commission
Part 23 Section 4. The Task Ahead: Observations, Recommendations, and Parting Polemics
Chapter 24 The Normative Perspective and the Ideology of Tomorrow
Chapter 25 Transitional Problems
Chapter 26 The Expert and Educated Incapacity
Chapter 27 Current Western Cultural Trends
Chapter 28 Futurology and the Future of Economic Development
Chapter 29 The Task Ahead
30 Herman Kahn. A Bio-Bibliographical Note
Herman Kahn's seminal thinking, extracted in this smart volume, is timeless. From thinking about nuclear war to anticipating the complaints about capitalism and forecasting the future, Kahn offers relevant ideas for today's challenges of terrorism, financial meltdown, and global warming. An indispensible read or re-read!
Henry R. Nau, The George Washington University


Broken into four parts, The Essential Herman Kahn reflects his wide range of interests: from nuclear strategy to prospects for economic growth, from the state of Western culture to methodologies for forecasting. Kahn, as one might suggest, would be no easy man to condense; but Aligica and Weinstein have done a remarkably good job of it.
The Weekly Standard, September 7, 2009


An excellent selection of the works of one of the most original and influential thinkers of our time.
Mark Blitz, Claremont McKenna College


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