War: New book examines how conflict shaped us



How Conflict Shaped Us

By Margaret MacMillan

Published by Profile Books; Dist. by Allen & Unwin
RRP $39.99 in hardcover | ISBN 9781788162562

‘War is perhaps the most organised of all human activities and in turn it has stimulated further organisation of society. Even in peacetime, preparing for war – finding the necessary money and resources – demands that governments assume greater control over society.’

So writes Margaret Macmillan in the introduction to her latest book that seeks to offer up insights into war across the span of human history and whether it really is an essential part of being human.

MacMillan explores the deep links between society and war and the questions those links raise.

We learn when war began and we see the ways in which war reflects changing societies or could it be that changing societal expectations, particularly in the West, now see war differently and understand its high human cost.

Have modern democratically-elected political leaders come to see that the loss of soldiers on a foreign battlefield may be too high a cost for the public to tolerate?

And yet the growth of messianic leaders continues to fuel conflict.

‘An enemy without uniforms or even bases,’ she writes, ‘whose members often recruit themselves on the internet, cannot be defeated by expensive jet fighters, tanks or aircraft carriers.’

And then there is cyberspace.

We may be tempted to let all memories of war slip away but she urges us to resist the temptation, because war is still with us.

And in that war, she concludes, we face the end of humanity itself. A sobering final coup de grace for any reader who held out hopes for a peaceful and tranquil future.

Read more about this book in this piece in the THE WASHINGTON POST:

Why human progress is inextricably linked to war

by Tanjil Rashid


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