War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots

War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots

by Ian Morris
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War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots by Ian Morris

A POWERFUL AND PROVOCATIVE EXPLORATION OF HOW WAR HAS CHANGED OUT SOCIETY—FOR THE BETTER

"War! / What is it good for? / Absolutely nothing," says the famous song—but archaeology, history, and biology show that war in fact has been good for something. Surprising as it sounds, war has made humanity safer and richer.

In War! What Is It Good For?, the renowned historian and archaeologist Ian Morris tells the gruesome, gripping story of fifteen thousand years of war, going beyond the battles and brutality to reveal what war has really done to and for the world. Stone Age people lived in small, feuding societies and stood a one-in-ten or even one-in-five chance of dying violently. In the twentieth century, by contrast—despite two world wars, Hiroshima, and the Holocaust—fewer than one person in a hundred died violently. The explanation: War, and war alone, has created bigger, more complex societies, ruled by governments that have stamped out internal violence. Strangely enough, killing has made the world safer, and the safety it has produced has allowed people to make the world richer too.

War has been history's greatest paradox, but this searching study of fifteen thousand years of violence suggests that the next half century is going to be the most dangerous of all time. If we can survive it, the age-old dream of ending war may yet come to pass. But, Morris argues, only if we understand what war has been good for can we know where it will take us next.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250062505
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 04/07/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 232,769
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Ian Morris is Willard Professor of Classics and History at Stanford University. He has published books including Why the West Rules—for Now and The Dynamics of Ancient Empires, and has directed excavations in Greece and Italy. He lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.

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War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Without question the most thought provoking book I read in 2014. While I don't necessarily agree with all the author's ideas, it certainly did take me"outside the box" of the traditionall approach to history and how we came to where we are now. Just for that reason alone, I highly recommend this book if you are the kind of person who likes to challenge conventional wisdom and your own preconceived notions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Over time, war has paradoxically made (and continues to make) humans safer and richer! That's the thesis, anyway. It's worth considering. The book is readable and for the most part interesting. The theory and statistics are more relevant and more impressive than the military history. The justification of America's role as "globocop" defies reality. The attempts at prediction are farcical.