A History of Warfare

A History of Warfare

by John Keegan
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A History of Warfare by John Keegan

One of the world' s foremost military historians offers a sweeping view of the place of warfare in civilization. Probing the meanings, motivations, and methods underlying war throughout history, John Keegan suggests why, in 2,000 years, humanity has not advanced far beyond the acceptance of violence on honorable terms. Keegan argues that while all civilizations owe their origins to war-making, their survival ultimately depends on taming man s enormous and enduring capacity for violence.

Keegan offers a sweeping view of the place of warfare in human culture and a brilliant exposition of the human impulse toward violence. Beginning with the premise that all civilizations owe their origins to warmaking, Keegan probes the meanings, motivations, and methods underlying war in different societies over the course of more than two thousand years, demonstrating how particular cultures give rise to their own styles of warmaking. A History of Warfare also examines the great changes in military technology from the discoveries of bronze and iron to the 20th century mobilization of science and industry culminating in the development of the atomic bomb.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780394588018
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/19/1993
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 6.65(w) x 9.54(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

John Keegan was for many years senior lecturer in military history at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and has been a fellow at Princeton University and a visiting professor of history at Vassar College. He is the author of twenty books, including the acclaimed The Face of Battle and The Second World War. He lived in Wiltshire, England until his death in 2012.

Table of Contents


1. War in Human History
Interlude: Limitations on Warmaking

2. Stone
Interlude: Fortification

3. Flesh
Interlude: Armies

4. Iron
Interlude: Logistics and Supply

5. Fire


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History of Warfare 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Unquestionably Keegan's most brilliant work--and that says a lot. This work traces the development of warfare from the Stone Age to the Modern, but is in reality a history of world civilization, and demonstrates with brilliant clarity the linkage between the two. Keegan seeks initially to explain what warfare is, and why it seems so dominant in human history. Rejecting the Clausewitzian theory of war as simply politics, Keegan instead shows how warfare and culture are inextricably connected, and how the process of cultural development influences and is influenced by military developments. The focus is primarily on evolution--why each development led to the next, why one culture supplanted another. The historical perspective is impressive; the largest part of the text developing history in the ancient era (suprising how insignificant our 'modern' era is). Analysis is also devoted to subjects like fortifications and logistics, and their development in the historical pattern. Yet ultimately it is a study of the human animal, as penetrating and insightful as any analysis yet done. This is an absolute 'must read' for anyone interested in history, military history, or in the sociological history of mankind. It is absolutely without peer.
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