From the Publisher
"Gabriel Kolko [is] the foremost modern historian of war and its political consequences." —John Gittings, The Guardian
"The totality of his argument is persuasive. I hope that many leaders and formers of public opinion will take the trouble to read this book, as it makes a crucial contribution to thinking about the readiness of war and its aftermath." —Toronto Globe & Mail
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kolko (Confronting the Third World), a leading Cold War revisionist, argues here that wars have been the 20th century's principal mediator between the collapse of traditional societies and the emergence of radical movements. Leaders have consistently overestimated their capacity to control the wars they started, he maintains. Protracted wars, in turn, profoundly altered the lives of ordinary people and gave rise to unexpected political consequences. WWI's legacy of wrecked economies, for example, ``became an essential precondition for the emergence of a numerically powerful Left, moving it from the margins to the very center of... all world affairs after 1941.'' But, the author asserts, communist and socialist parties then gradually ``became gravely, perhaps even fatally, defensive and isolated,'' and as a result their popular roots atrophied. This provocative work will engage general readers as well as specialists. (Oct.)
Kolko (Politics of War, Pantheon, 1990) has produced a dense book focusing on World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam. In addition, he covers the Greek civil wars, the conflicts in the Philippines, and China. A main theme is that political and military leaders have consistently misunderstood and underestimated the wars they have set into motion. Kolko argues that since World War I, military technology has caused conflicts to be much longer and more destructive to civilians than ever before. In turn, as the civilian population became alienated, they played crucial roles in the outcome of wars and the history of this century. The effects of war upon civilians has also modified the social character of nations. While some may strongly disagree with Kolko's leftist views, this is an important book on an important subject offering many ideas worthy of discussion. As such, it should be on the shelves of all academic libraries.-Dennis L. Noble, Sequim, Wash.