Robert Pape is a scholar at the University of Chicago probably best known for two important studies, both of which we discuss in detail. In the mid 1990s Pape wrote Bombing to Win which called into question big assumptions about the efficacy of airpower. In the mid 2000s, he wrote Dying to Win which was the first big examination of the logic and motivations of suicide bombing campaigns; and his conclusion was somewhat intuitive.
Pape comes from very a humble background, raised by a single mom who valued her son’s education above all else, and we go pretty deep into his personal background and journey from modest beginnings in Erie, Pennsylvania to the heights of academia. We start off though, discussing a question he’s been thinking about recently: do suicide terror attacks spike during Muslim holidays?
And if you are the kind of IR nerd who loves learning a bit about the life story of academics, check out my conversations with Bob Jervis, Stephen Walt, James Fearon Christine Fair, Joseph Nye and Laura Seay among others. You can find them all here. And here.