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 truly global study of war and civilization, Azar Gat sets out to find definitive answers to these questions in an attempt to unravel the 'riddle of war' throughout human history, from the early hunter-gatherers right through to the unconventional terrorism of the twenty-first century.
In the process, the book generates an astonishing wealth of original and fascinating insights on all major aspects of humankind's remarkable journey through the ages, engaging a wide range of disciplines, from anthropology and evolutionary psychology to sociology and political science. Written with remarkable verve and clarity and wholly free from jargon, it will be of interest to anyone who has ever pondered the puzzle of war.
Azar Gat is Ezer Weitzman Professor of National Security in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. He has published widely in the field of military strategy and thought, including A History of Military Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Cold War, also published by Oxford University Press, and has taught and lectured at Freiburg, Oxford, Yale, Ohio State, and Georgetown universities.
PART 1: WARFARE IN THE FIRST TWO MILLION YEARS: ENVIRONMENT, GENES, AND CULTURE ; 1. Introduction: The Human 'State of Nature' ; 2. Peaceful or War-like: Did Hunter-Gatherers Fight? ; 3. Why Fighting? The Evolutionary Perspective ; 4. Motivation: Food and Sex ; 5. Motivation: the Web of Desire ; 6. 'Primitive Warfare': How Was It Done? ; 7. Conclusion: Fighting in the Evolutionary State of Nature ; PART 2: AGRICULTURE, CIVILIZATION, AND WAR ; 8. Introduction: Evolving Cultural Complexity ; 9. Tribal Warfare in Agraria and Pastoralia ; 10. Armed Force in the Emergence of the State ; 11. The Eurasian Spearhead: East, West, and the Steppe ; 12. Conclusion: War, the Leviathan, and the Pleasures and Miseries of Civilization ; PART 3: MODERNITY: THE DUAL FACE OF JANUS ; 13. Introduction: the Explosion of Wealth and Power ; 14. Guns and Markets: the New European States and a Global World ; 15. Unbound and Bound Prometheus: Machine Age War ; 16. Affluent Liberal Democracies, Ultimate Weapons, and the World ; 17. Conclusion: Unravelling the Riddle of War ; Endnotes ; Index