War! What Is It Good For?

War! What Is It Good For?

Conflict and the Progress of Civilization From Primates to Robots

Book - 2014
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"A powerful and provocative exploration of how war has changed our society--for the better "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 fifteen thousand years of war, going behind 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 twentieth 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 centuries 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"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374286002
0374286000
Branch Call Number: 303.66 Morris 2014
Characteristics: xi, 495 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm

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1aa
Mar 26, 2016

A very accessible meta-history of war as an institution in the lives of groups of humans; of how war has functioned, and the way that its influenced human societies. Some of his conclusions don't feel that they should be correct, but his evidence is rather good. The two major concepts which his interpretation relies upon - caging and bandits (both roving and stationary) - seem a bit vague, and other concepts, like the 'power law' (which is usually a 4 to 1 ratio in many areas of social life), are not considered. The ending, like the ending to his other book (Why the West Rules) is speculative, but builds on his findings. The suggested further reading section is the part I found frustrating: it simply has a small heading and a sentence in which is embedded the author and sometimes a date, forcing one to go flipping through the bibliography; and its printed much smaller than necessary.

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StarGladiator
Aug 28, 2014

The basic fallacy with this book and Morris' thinking is that predatory capitalism is a // good \\ thing?!?!?

Doubt it . .

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