Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Rivalry and Revenge
The Politics of Violence during Civil War

$29.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

  • Date Published: September 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107548213

$ 29.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • What explains violence against civilians in civil wars? Why do groups kill civilians in areas where they have full military control and their rivals have no military presence? This innovative book connects pre-war politics to patterns of violence during civil war. It argues that both local political rivalry and local revenge account for violence against civilians. Armed groups perpetrate direct violence jointly with local civilians, who collaborate when violence can help them gain or consolidate local political control. As civil war continues, revenge motives also come into play, leading to spirals of violence at a local level. In an important contribution to the study of the Spanish Civil War, Balcells combines statistical analyses with ethnographic and qualitative research to provide new insights to scholars and academic researchers with an interest in civil war, politics and conflict processes. Rivalry and Revenge is theoretically and empirically rich, and it offers a theory and method generalizable to a wide set of cases.

    • A major reinterpretation of the Spanish Civil War with great data to support this novel view
    • Incorporates both political and emotional factors in a strategic explanation of violence, which will appeal to those who believe rational choice models are too narrow to explain complex social phenomena
    • Combines research methodology using statistical analyses, archival evidence, case studies and interviews
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Using original data collected from Spanish archives, Balcells studies why and where Republicans and Falangists killed civilians during the three years of the Spanish Civil War that cost half a million lives. Her highly original and convincing argument re-introduces politics proper into the burgeoning research on violence against civilians. She shows that both groups killed civilians, where it was strategically most useful, where it could possibly tilt the local balance of power to one side or the other, thus laying the ground for post-war political dominance. Masterfully executed and concisely argued, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the micro-dynamics of civil wars and violence.' Andreas Wimmer, Columbia University

    'A riveting account of the role of rivalry and revenge in civil war, this book goes beyond contestation and military or organizational factors to present civil war as an extension of politics and emotions. Balcells highlights the salience of prewar political mobilization and that of wartime victimization in her compelling explanation of the dynamics of conflict and violence. This is undoubtedly an all-time classic work on the Spanish Civil War, a conflict that shaped contemporary Europe and still holds important lessons for other wars raging in the world today, such as Syria and Libya.' Fotini Christia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    'Despite so much excellent research on civil war, we have failed to explain one of its most alarming features-the extent of violence directed at civilians. Understanding this phenomenon is extraordinarily important today, where the headlines abound with civilian victimization. Laia Balcells' in-depth research offers and tests a political theory that takes seriously the interactions among local populations and the occupying military forces as they use their powers strategically for vengeance, yes, but also to prepare for a post-war world that can realize the dreams of the warriors. Rivalry and Revenge offers real guidance for making sense of so much of what we now see before us.' Margaret Levi, Stanford University

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107548213
    • length: 285 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 155 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • contains: 29 b/w illus. 8 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Notes on conventions
    Part I:
    1. Violence against civilians during civil wars
    2. A theory of violence against civilians
    Part II:
    3. History of the Spanish civil war (1936–9)
    4. Executions and massacres during the Spanish civil war (1936–9)
    5. Bombardments during the Spanish civil war (1936–9)
    Part III:
    6. The conflict in Côte d'Ivoire (2002–11)
    7. Additional evidence and macro-level implications
    8. Conclusion

  • Author

    Laia Balcells, Georgetown University, Washington DC
    Laia Balcells is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke University, North Carolina. Her research explores the determinants of political violence and civil wars, warfare dynamics during conflict, and nationalism and ethnic conflict. She has recently published in journals such as the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, International Studies Quarterly, and the Journal of Peace Research, and is recipient of the Harry Frank Guggenheim research grant and the Luebbert Award for Best Article in Comparative Politics from the American Political Science Association.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.