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Hundreds of books have been written about the carnage of the past hundred years: two gory global conflicts; wars on every continent; religious and ethnic massacres. The surprising news that historian Ian Morris (Why the West Rules—for Now; The Measure of Civilization) brings to the reading table is the revelation that for millennia, war has actually helped sort out man's tribalism and unruly behavior. Demonstrating his point, he points out that Stone Age people had a one in five chance of a violent death; now fewer than one person in a hundred dies that way. Over time, dangerous frontier and wilderness feuds have been supplanted by bigger, more complex societies and more effective governments. Editor's recommendation.