The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Military in Politics is like no other work on this subject because it provides the space to examine the relationships between governments and their military in roughly 100 political systems. It quickly becomes clear that there is a great deal of variety in how these relationships play out over time.
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People tend to think of civil-military relationships in binary terms. Either the military takes its orders from its usually civilian government leaders without any resistance or the military calls the governmental shots by taking over the government when it is displeased with civilian behavior. Reality, of course, is much different. There is an incredible variety of civil-military relationships around the globe, ranging between the continuum end points of full
obedience to governmental authority and military coups d'etat. It is ordinarily difficult to tap into that variety easily because edited collections of country studies are constrained by space limitations to covering a handful of representative or interesting political systems. That constraint often
leads to focusing on a few well known cases - normally, ones involving intermittent military rule. Other examinations limit themselves to more in-depth analysis of single cases. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Military in Politics is the first of its kind in the sense that it contains 92 chapters encompassing roughly a hundred cases examining the evolution of civil-military relationships over time. Approximately half of the cases encompass states in which the military more or less
accepts political subordination. In the other half, they either have refused to be subordinated or become politically insubordinate intermittently. Authors were recruited from around the world to address these issues from a variety of perspectives. In addition, another 32 chapters examine topical questions such
as what factors encourage military coups, what are the consequences of military rule, how do the military vote, or whether military expenditures boost economic growth.