"War! . . . . / What is it good for? / Absolutely nothing," says the famous song - but archaeology, history, and biology show that war in fact has been good for something. Surprising as it sounds, war has made humanity safer and richer. In War! What Is It Good For?, the renowned historian and archaeologist Ian Morris tells the gruesome, gripping story of 15,000 years of war, going beyond the battles and brutality to reveal what war has really done to and for the world. Stone Age people lived in small, feuding societies and stood a one-in-ten or even one-in-five chance of dying violently. In the 20th century, by contrast - despite two world wars, Hiroshima, and the Holocaust - fewer than one person in a hundred died violently. The explanation: War, and war alone, has created bigger, more complex societies, ruled by governments that have stamped out internal violence. Strangely enough, killing has made the world safer, and the safety it has produced has allowed people to make the world richer too. War has been history's greatest paradox, but this searching study of fifteen thousand years of violence suggests that the next half century is going to be the most dangerous of all time. If we can survive it, the age-old dream of ending war may yet come to pass. But, Morris argues, only if we understand what war has been good for can we know where it will take us next.
©2014 Ian Morris (P)2014 Tantor
"A disturbing, transformative text that veers toward essential reading." (Kirkus, Starred Review)
Irrational, but True
Should be re-titled: "The Positive Side of War and Conflict and Their Role in History and Society". Whether or not you agree with Morris, he lays out his thesis clearly and with considerable evidence. His method is rigorous and scholarly. His conclusion is that war is the historical and sociological underpinning of the state, and that the state is responsible for creating a social, economic, and political reality in which the individual quality of life is dramatically better, and more peaceful, than it was in "traditional" societies. These are points bound to be controversial, and building a case and explaining all of his qualifications takes the entirety of the book. The presentation of that argument is solid, with a thorough analysis that is nonetheless engaging, interesting, and well structured.
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
Report Inappropriate Content