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War: How Conflict Shaped Us

by Margaret MacMillan

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223899,356 (3.85)11
"War, the instinct to fight, is inherent in human nature; peace is the aberration in history. War has shaped humanity, its institutions, its states, its values and ideas. Our very language, our public spaces, our private memories, some of our greatest cultural treasures reflect the glory and the misery of war. War is an uncomfortable and challenging subject not least because it brings out the most vile and the noblest aspects of humanity. Margaret MacMillan looks at the ways in which war has shaped human history and how, in turn, changes in political organization, technology, or ideologies have affected how and why we fight. The book considers such much-debated and controversial issues as when war first started; whether human nature dooms us to fight each other; why war has been described as the most organized of all human activities and how it has forced us to become still more organized; how warriors are made and why are they almost always men; and how we try to control war. Drawing on lessons from a sweep of history, from classical history to modern warfare, and from all parts of the globe, MacMillan reveals the many faces of war--the way it shapes our past, our future, our views of the world, and our very conception of ourselves"--… (more)
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» See also 11 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This book was really incredible. I've always been fascinated with war and consumed many books and movies about it but at the same time war disgusts me and I can't think of too many times when it is necessary...this book really shines a light on a lot of war, anti-war controversial issues. I give it to this author because by drawing on world history and conflict, she's gotta know a lot of shit about a lot of shit. 5 stars for sure and this is one of the many books that I think people should be required to read. I love her style of writing too. She's written another book called "Paris 1919" and I'm probably going to read that one too eventually just because this one was so awesome. ( )
  swmproblems | Nov 14, 2021 |
This book is a survey of the effects of war on human society. It asserts, uncontroversially, that war has shaped the development of political rights, technology, and art, among other things. The problem is that such an assertion is not an argument---it's a basic statement of fact. Accordingly, the book fails to advance an original thesis. That isn't to say that the book is unenjoyable. MacMillan is capable of summoning a huge range of illustrative anecdotes, passages, and statistics to engage the reader over the course of the book's nine topical chapters. However, these illustrations are evidence in search of an argument, one which the author never really makes.
  newgrubstreet | Nov 6, 2021 |
So this is a really interesting book that gives more information about the history of war than I thought was possible. From analysis of ancient conflicts to social movements that parallel or encourage wars, each section could probably be expanded into a book by itself. If there is any criticism perhaps it is that there is so much information that topics are breezed through and transitioned very quickly. This is a relatively short novel, so there is just not enough space to cover things as in depth as they may deserve. Nevertheless, I found the book full of lots of interesting facts.given the topic I can see how this may not fall into every person’s wheelhouse, but you are likely to come across something that you never knew . Thank you to Netgalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  hana321 | May 10, 2021 |
Having read and very much admired Ms. MacMillan's "The War That Ended Peace", I eagerly awaited this book, and bought it as soon as it came out. It is indeed a very interesting book, and also a readable one. It also stresses some ideas that bear notice -- that war and the nation state are interdependent, that the general view on any given war can change drastically over time, and that art and war have a strong and shifting relationship. But, for me, it doesn't answer some essential questions. Is war innate in human nature? What is war like for the warrior? The only conclusion presented on the second issue is that war is a mystery. This isn't proposed as an answer to the first, but it was the answer the book created for me. A more direct approach would have been welcome -- if perhaps impossible. ( )
  annbury | May 4, 2021 |
The concluding paragraph is good. Other than that, this is one of the more forgettable books you’ll ever read. Anecdotal stories are grouped together in themes by chapter, but many oppose each other, so they don’t lead anywhere. Some parts are interesting enough I suppose. ( )
  texasstorm | May 2, 2021 |
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"War, the instinct to fight, is inherent in human nature; peace is the aberration in history. War has shaped humanity, its institutions, its states, its values and ideas. Our very language, our public spaces, our private memories, some of our greatest cultural treasures reflect the glory and the misery of war. War is an uncomfortable and challenging subject not least because it brings out the most vile and the noblest aspects of humanity. Margaret MacMillan looks at the ways in which war has shaped human history and how, in turn, changes in political organization, technology, or ideologies have affected how and why we fight. The book considers such much-debated and controversial issues as when war first started; whether human nature dooms us to fight each other; why war has been described as the most organized of all human activities and how it has forced us to become still more organized; how warriors are made and why are they almost always men; and how we try to control war. Drawing on lessons from a sweep of history, from classical history to modern warfare, and from all parts of the globe, MacMillan reveals the many faces of war--the way it shapes our past, our future, our views of the world, and our very conception of ourselves"--

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