HISTORY

War: How Conflict Shaped Us

Random. Sept. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781984856135. $30. HIST
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Depending on how you count conflicts, there have been 150-300 armed conflicts since 1945. Human propensity for war (and its glamour and transformative nature) are some of the aspects that MacMillan (Paris 1919) explores in her latest book. As a well-regarded historian, MacMillan has the experience and the talent to provide meaningful examples of how war affects society and why that is so. While she doesn’t really reach any definitive conclusions to her questions, the beauty of this book is how the questions are posed, and the evidence that she lays forth. From Ancient Greece and Rome to the Hundred Years War to the American Civil War to the First and Second World Wars, the narrative explores both brutality against civilians and active resistance in the form of protests. Raising questions such as “Does war bring out the worst or the best in us?” or “Is war an inevitable result of being human?,” MacMillan’s discussion is also philosophical, as she explores how wars impact countries near and far from an affected area.
VERDICT Those interested in military history, and the idea of how we make, prepare, and enable war, will enjoy this thought-provoking read.

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