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Description - War and Our World by John Keegan

War has afflicted the life of mankind in this century as it has done in no other. The First World War killed ten million people, the Second fifty million, and wars since 1945 have killed millions more. Nuclear weapons, a product of the Second World War, have the potentiality not only to destroy lives on a scale greater than any yet explained or even imagined but to obliterate organised society itself. Because the story of war is intertwined with that of mankind from the earliest recorded times, no short book can encompass its whole history. John Keegan therefore concentrates in significant themes: the impact of war on our century and the forms it has taken; the origin of war in human nature and history; the adoption and use of war by states as an instrument of policy; the experience of war by individuals and human groups and its effect on their existence; and, finally, the future of war, particularly the question whether there can now be an end to it.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780712665667
ISBN-10: 0712665668
Format: Paperback
(215mm x 137mm x 10mm)
Pages: 112
Imprint: Pimlico
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 1-Apr-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - War and Our World by John Keegan

Book Reviews - War and Our World by John Keegan

UK Kirkus Review » In this lucid and concise account, Keegan considers the nature of war and its relationship with society and the individual. He reflects on how war, which he defines loosely as 'collective killing for some collective purpose', has replaced both famine and plague as the major threat to life in our times, and goes on to examine its possible causes, including the 'seat of aggression' in the human brain and territoriality. At a time when technology has made possible the destruction of society itself, he points out that regular armies are diminishing in size and that war is increasingly becoming an activity undertaken by poor states. In his view, the availability of cheap weapons is one of the most alarming ingredients of our contemporary military condition. Perhaps the most prominent feature of this book is the transformation of the soldier from a pillaging parasite and reject of society into an honourable warrior who is often ready to risk his life selflessly in the cause of peace. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Short, graceful ruminations from one of our greatest military historians on the ugliest of topics: the nature and impact of armed conflict. Unlike the epic histories for which he is best known, Keegan ("The First World War", 1999, etc.) fashioned these essays for delivery over the BBC as the 1998 Reith Lectures. Yet, though his medium is different, he speaks in the same assured voice, with absolute command of his material and respect for the awful gravity of his subject. He concentrates not on stories but five themes: war's impact on the modern world, its origins, relation to the state, effect on the individual, and prospects for its abolition. The development of agriculture, he infers from archaeological evidence, may have led to defenses against roaming hunters. War's very savagery led men to agonize over its morality, and eventually elaborate rules governing its conduct were created-notably by Christianity (which required penance for shedding a fellow Christian's blood) and Islam (whose holy book forbade violence against all who submitted to Muslim rule). Only in the 19th century did war become a feared mass killer, following the Civil War and the Clausewitz dictum that war is the continuation of politics by other means (which Keegan charges with "polluting civilized thought about how wars could and should be fought"). The author grounds his overarching theories with some particularly vivid anecdotes. A telegraph boy on a bicycle, he notes in one searing image, became an "omen of terror" for parents and wives during the two world wars, for he frequently brought news of the death of sons and husbands in the armed forces. Although pessimistic about the possibility of ending war completely, Keegan believes that fears of the horrors of the last century will result in war's ebbing as a destructive force. To that end, he urges restricting the distribution and production of cheap arms such as the mass-produced assault rifle. Keegan aficionados will prefer his larger-scale chronicles and analyses, but neophytes will savor these exquisitely crafted miniatures. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - John Keegan

John Keegan is the Defence Editor of the Daily Telegraph and Britain's foremost military historian. The Reith Lecturer in 1998, he is the author of many bestselling books including The Face of Battle, Six Armies in Normandy, Battle at Sea, The Second World War, A history of Warfare (awarded the Duff Cooper Prize), Warpaths, The Battle for History, The First World War, and most recently, Intelligence in War. For many years John Keegan was the Senior Lecturer in Military History at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and he has been a Fellow of Princeton University and Delmas Distinguished Professor of History at Vassar. He is Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He received the OBE in the Gulf War honours list, and was knighted in the Millennium honours list in 1999. John Keegan died in August 2012.

Books By John Keegan

Face Of Battle by John Keegan
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Nation in Arms by John Keegan
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First World War by John Keegan
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American Civil War by John Keegan
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