Sean's Reviews > The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History

The Shield of Achilles by Philip Bobbitt
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's review
Dec 19, 12

bookshelves: history, non-fiction, war
Read from March 08 to December 19, 2012

I thought that this book might be my white whale, but I finally caught up to it. Purchased, 2002. Began reading, 2002, 2005, and 2012. Finished, 2012. Phew.

A dense examination of the interplay between law, war, and the constitutional ordering of the state. The first book focuses on the history of the modern state, and the periods of war and peace that led to paradigm shifts in way states were conceived of and behaved. Much attention is given to the Long War, Bobbit's name for the 75ish years of struggle that lasted from 1914 to 1990.

The second book turns to the international society of states, and to the epoch-making peaces that periodically mark the end of one constitutional form and the advent of another.

Bobbit contends that the nation-state, born of the late 19th century and maturing in the conflicts of the 20th -- which saw parlimentarianism triumph over fascism and communism -- is withering away, unable to face the various technological challenges of the 21st century. In its place, a market-state will arise, and is already arising. What shape it will take is still in play, and depends on the choices we make today.

I found much, and perhaps most, of Bobbit's argument persuasive, and think that the book aged well. Indeed, I imagine that I got more out of the segment on possible futures in 2012 than I might have in 2002.

Highly recommended for those with an interest in military matters, the law, or geopolitics. It's not an easy read, but I think it's a worthwhile investment of your time.


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Reading Progress

03/20/2012 page 250
26.0% "OMG so good. Head hurts."
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message 1: by James (new)

James That your reading of this book was "cut off" on multiple occasions brings to mind another Bobbitt from another time.

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