In Why Leaders Fight, Michael Horowitz, Allan Stam, and Cali Ellis employ their dataset, Leader Experience and Attribute Descriptions (LEAD), to evaluate which attributes make leaders more likely to start international conflicts. LEAD builds on the Archigos dataset of political leaders (Goemans, Gleditsch, and Chiozza 2009). Although the book makes a valuable empirical contribution, its novelty is somewhat overstated.

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The authors offer an extensive defense of their focus on leaders in the introduction, framing the study in the context of the (quantitative) study of conflict. The book is also relevant to scholars in foreign policy analysis, for whom the introductory chapter states the obvious: leaders matter.

In chapter 1, the authors elaborate on the various indicators in the LEAD dataset. These include measures...

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