Thoughtful and brilliant insights into the very nature of war--from the ancient Greeks to modern times--from the world's foremost expert historian.
War--its imprint in our lives and our memories--is all around us, from the metaphors we use to the names on our maps. As books, movies, and television series show, we are drawn to the history and depiction of war. Yet we nevertheless like to think of war as an aberration, as the breakdown of the normal state of peace. This is comforting but wrong. War is woven into the fabric of human civilization.
In this sweeping new book, international bestselling author and historian Margaret MacMillan analyzes the tangled history of war and society and our complicated feelings towards it and towards those who fight. It explores the ways in which changes in society have affected the nature of war and how in turn wars have changed the societies that fight them, including the ways in which women have been both participants in and the objects of war.
MacMillan's new book contains many revelations, such as war has often been good for science and innovation and in the 20th century it did much for the position of women in many societies. But throughout, it forces the reader to reflect on the ways in which war is so intertwined with society, and the myriad reasons we fight.
MARGARET MACMILLAN received her PhD from Oxford University and was a professor of international history at Oxford, where she was also the warden of St. Antony's College. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature; a senior fellow of Massey College, University of Toronto; and an honorary fellow of Trinity College, University of Toronto, and of St Hilda's College, Oxford University. She sits on the boards of the Mosaic Institute and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, and on the editorial boards of The International History Review and First World War Studies. She also sits on the advisory board of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation and is a Trustee of the Rhodes Trust. Her previous books include Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History, Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World, Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the British Empire in India, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize, and the Duff Cooper Prize and was a New York Times Editors' Choice, and The War That Ended Peace.
“In nine thoughtful chapters . . . MacMillan tackles broad issues such as the reasons nations go to war, the cult of the warrior, the effect of war on civilians and on women, efforts (barely two centuries old) to make laws for war, and its influence on art, literature, and national memories. An insightful and disturbing study of war as an aspect of culture.”
"Margaret Macmillan has produced another seminal work. War: How Conflict Shaped Us deepens and broadens our knowledge of war and warfare. And in doing so it deepens our understanding of humanity. No other author could have synthesized history across time without oversimplification or shown readers the subject from myriad perspectives in such a coherent manner. She is right that we must, more than ever, think about war. And she has shown us how in this brilliant, elegantly written book."
—H.R. McMaster, author of Dereliction of Duty and Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World