War in Human Civilization / Edition 1

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Overview

Why do people go to war? Is it rooted in human nature or is it a late cultural invention? How does war relate to the other fundamental developments in the history of human civilization? And what of war today—is it a declining phenomenon or simply changing its shape?

In this sweeping study of war and civilization, Azar Gat sets out to find definitive answers to these questions in an attempt to unravel the riddle of war throughout human history, from the early hunter-gatherers right through to the unconventional terrorism of the twenty-first century. In the process, the book generates an astonishing wealth of original and fascinating insights on all major aspects of humankind's remarkable journey through the ages, engaging a wide range of disciplines, from anthropology and evolutionary psychology to sociology and political science. Written with remarkable verve and clarity and wholly free from jargon, it will be of interest to anyone who has ever pondered the puzzle of war.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"War in Human Civilization is indeed the ambitious, sweeping book that the author set out to write. Both its scope and scale are impressive as is the wide range of sources and disciplines whose theories and methods are brought to bear on the 'riddle' of war.... The coverage and the deft weaving together of so many central theories on human behavior make this a book worth examining."—Michael S. Neilberg, Journal of Social History

"A work of extraordinary scope and formidable erudition.... Gat definitively unravels the riddle of civilization and war."—Professor Robert J. Lieber, Georgetown University

"Gat's book is a rich undertaking definitely well worth reading and pondering."—William R. Thompson, The International History Review

UNEDITED UK REVIEW: "An immensely ambitious work covering not only history but archaeology, anthropology, ethnography, demography and economics, to name but a few... its weight of learning is borne aloft by the author's enthusiasm for his subject and takes his readers with it. If only there were more scholars like this!"—Michael Howard, TLS Books of the Year

UNEDITED UK REVIEW: "There's any amount of fascinating insight to be found in this big and enormously ambitious interdisciplinary study."—The Scotsman

UNEDITED UK REVIEW: "A book of extraordinary ambition, erudition and range... Every student of war will be obliged to engage with this remarkable piece of scholarship."—Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, King's College, London

"A work of extraordinary scope and formidable erudition.... Gat definitively unravels the riddle of civilization and war."—Professor Robert J. Lieber, Georgetown University

UNEDITED UK REVIEW: "A towering and triumphant achievement... acute, scholarly, and wide-ranging: it is certainly one of the most important works on the subject written since 1945. Gat is at the top of his brilliant form, linking a variety of disciplines in a rich and comprehensive study of this most pertinent of issues."—Professor Richard Holmes

"The scope and sweep of Gat's work is certainly unmatched in modern world history writings...Gat's work will be a springboard for debate, refutation, support and development for some time to come." —World History Bulletin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199236633
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/15/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 840
  • Sales rank: 719,976
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Azar Gat is Ezer Weitzman Professor of National Security in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. He has published widely in the field of military strategy and thought, including A History of Military Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Cold War.

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Table of Contents

Part 1: Warfare in the First Two Million Years: Environment, Genes, and Culture
1. Introduction: The Human 'State of Nature'
2. Peaceful or War-like: Did Hunter-Gatherers Fight?
3. Why Fighting? The Evolutionary Perspective
4. Motivation: Food and Sex
5. Motivation: the Web of Desire
6. 'Primitive Warfare': How Was It Done?
7. Conclusion: Fighting in the Evolutionary State of Nature
Part 2: Agriculture, Civilization, and War
8. Introduction: Evolving Cultural Complexity
9. Tribal Warfare in Agraria and Pastoralia
10. Armed Force in the Emergence of the State
11. The Eurasian Spearhead: East, West, and the Steppe
12. Conclusion: War, the Leviathan, and the Pleasures and Miseries of Civilization
Part 3: Modernity: the Dual Face of Janus
13. Introduction: the Explosion of Wealth and Power
14. Guns and Markets: the New European States and a Global World
15. Unbound and Bound Prometheus: Machine Age War
16. Affluent Liberal Democracies, Ultimate Weapons, and the World
17. Conclusion: Unravelling the Riddle of War
Endnotes
Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A work of genius

    The book of Azar Gat is as idiosyncratic and angular as, e.g. Borges or Schopenhauer. Some of its passages are simply bigoted or idiotic. But this is probably the most important book on warfare written since J.F.C. Fuller's The Decisive Battles of the Western World (Fuller, by the way, was a well-known Nazi sympathizer). This is a work of pure genius. It now joins the rare firmament occupied by a select few: Sun Tzu, von Klausewitz, etc. as one of the minor but bright stars. See a complete review and argument with several of his statements on my blog oldpossumsbookreview.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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