On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace

On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace

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by Donald Kagan

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Bernstein
"On the Origins of War" is a remarkable study in historical juxtaposition and analogy. . . . Mr. Kagan's undertaking is valuable and compelling because it distills so much history into so clear and transparent a liquid. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This book is best read as a counterpoint to Paul Kennedy's 1987 study, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. Kennedy emphasized the primacy of domestic politics; Kagan, professor of history and classics at Yale, focuses on international relations, pondering why states choose to go to war. He sees the determining factors as those enunciated by Thucydides: ``honor, fear, and interest.'' War cannot be eliminated because peace is not regarded as an absolute good, yet particular conflicts can be averted, according to Kagan. He analyzes five wars, ranging across 2500 years and involving widely different kinds of governments. He begins with the Greek city-states that fought the Peloponnesian Wars and moves to the Second Punic War between Rome and Carthage, before jumping to the 20th century for the two world wars and the near-war of the Cuban missile crisis. The wide temporal gap between the ancient and the modern examples highlights Kagan's thesis that peace does not keep itself: ``A persistent and repeated error through the ages has been the failure to understand that the preservation of peace requires active effort, planning, the expenditure of resources, and sacrifice, just as war does.'' A thoughtful review of an age-old phenomenon. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Library Journal
In his latest work, Kagan continues the theme of a parallel between ancient and modern history, which he brought forward in Pericles of Athens and the Birth of Democracy (LJ 11/15/90). Studying the international systems in place at the time of the Peleponnesian War, World War I, the Second Punic War, World War II, and the Cuban Missle and Berlin Wall crises, Kagan concludes that peace is an active process requiring constant attention; it is not merely the absence of war. Kagan's overall premise will be certain to spark discussions in academic circles, and his discussion of the events that led to a near-war in the 1960s, particularly the tacit acceptance of the construction of the Berlin Wall by the Kennedy administration, may provoke a more public controversy as well. This work deserves a place in history collections. While his style is academic, his message is of importance to all in this post-Cold War world. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Stanley Planton, Ohio Univ., Chillicothe
Kagan (history, classics, and Western civilization, Yale U.) details five case studies of efforts to prevent war. Among them are the Athenian Pericles' attempts to calm the Spartans in the fifth century BC and prevent what became the Peloponnesian War; and how the treaty after the First Punic War (218-201 BC) led to the Second Punic War, and the Treaty of Versailles played the same role in regard to the First and Second World Wars. His only example of success is the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.30(d)

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On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago