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War in Human Civilization
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War in Human Civilization

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  84 ratings  ·  10 reviews
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 quest
Paperback, 822 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2006)
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A massive tome that cuts through all of human history, "combining biology, anthropology, archaeology, history, sociology, and political science - and ranging from the origins of our species to the current threat of terrorism." Conclusion: War has always been with us from the depths of pre-history until the ultra-peaceful democracies of today. Its not going away despite the best intentions and hopes of peace loving modern society. However, the dawn of the Industrial Age has wrought amazing change ...more
This is a massive and fatiguing book to read. Weighing in at 673 pages it is definitely an endurance test to make it all the way through. Azar Gat admits in the preface that he designed this book not only for scholars but also for the interested reader walking into Barnes and Noble or shopping on Amazon for a book on war. I'm sure this book has made wide circulation among scholarly circles. However, I doubt seriously that many other readers will take the time and energy to make it past the first ...more
Joseph Stieb
In War in Human Civilization, Azar Gat tackles two major questions about war. First, what are the essential reasons why humans fight wars? Second, how have the motivations, practices, and lethality of war changed as human civilization has transformed over time? Although the book is a challenging read given its length and dense writing, Gat offers much illumination on these and other questions.
Gat received his Ph.D in history and he now teaches political science at Tel Aviv University. War in Hum
very dense, very well researched study of the history of human militarism.. especially interesting the collation of data regarding pre-historic use of violence as a tool for access to and distribution of resources. Author explicates well the key roles of pastoralism and sedentarist agriculture in formalizing the rudiments of war-making The role of military action in state formation, and the state is a machine for war, is powerfully laid out. The sheer bulk of the data points to the historic nece ...more
Why war? The author collects and present a large body of evidence saying that war exists because it is adaptive, and has been so over a long period of time and in many regions of the world. The breadth of reference and the general thoroughness of writing are impressive. However, many behaviors are explained as being holdovers from a time when they were adaptive, and one must make one's own judgement about the strength of that argument.
Nov 10, 2007 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cultural Anthroplogists
I'm in the process ofreading it so far, so I'll update this when it's done, but so far it's very good. Similar idea to Guns, Germs and Steel, conceptually at least. Obviously Gat's ideas are very different, but the analysis is similar.
Victoria Ferauge
Brilliant book. Clear arguments supporting all his points that are comprehensible (even enjoyable) to the general reader. Not entirely convinced of the kin/culture tie but it certainly gave me a lot to think about.
Jeffrey Cavanaugh
Probably the best single-volume work you will find on the subject. Should be required reading for any serious undergraduate or graduate-level course on war.
Very clear, well written, and thoughtful book on the use of violence through out human history.
Azar Gat takes on one of the most fundamental questions regarding human history and nature: why do we fight? In trying to find an answer, Gat covers a broad range of disciplines (history, archaeology, psychology, sociology, genetics). He clearly demonstrates that war, contrary to being an aberration brought on by civilization, has been a part of humanity's existence since the beginning. Even though the weapons and the nature of war's destructiveness have changed, the underlying motivations have ...more
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