A History of Warfare

A History of Warfare

A History of Warfare The acclaimed author of The Face of Battle examines centures of conflict in a variety of diverse societies and cultures Keegan is at once the most readable and the most original of living military his

  • Title: A History of Warfare
  • Author: John Keegan
  • ISBN: 9780091745271
  • Page: 109
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The acclaimed author of The Face of Battle examines centures of conflict in a variety of diverse societies and cultures Keegan is at once the most readable and the most original of living military historians A History of Warfare is perhaps the most remarkable study of warfare that has yet been written The New York Times Book Review.

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      109 John Keegan
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      Posted by:John Keegan
      Published :2020-03-03T18:12:24+00:00

    243 Comment

    Brilliant. A cultural history of war from antiquity to the present day in a single volume. Keegan starts with the symbolic forms of war among the so called "primitives," including those from the neolithic, using much archaeological evidence to do so. He then moves on to the advent of the chariot by the ancient Thracians and Egyptians, and its eventual supersession by the compound-bow wielding horse peoples from the Eurasian steppes (Huns, Mongols, Magyars, et. al). Then the subsequent heyday of [...]

    Wow. Do not go head-to-head with this erudite military historian.Sweeping in its range--from 6000 BC fertile crescent to Cold War mutually assured destruction; inclusive in its coverage--from the Manchu in North Korea to the Mamelukes in Egypt to the Yanomamo in Brazil; comprehensive in its topics--from stone to flesh to iron to fire. This is truly a history of warfare.As a member of the military, I was introduced, taught to memorize, encouraged to stress, and told to believe the tenants of the [...]

    A horrid book for two reasons. First, Keegen willfully misrepresents Clausewitz. Clausewitz argues that warfare takes place within a political context, and is, in fact completely defined by that political context: hence "war is a continuation of politics by another means". Keegan attacks Clausewitz for advocating warfare as a rational way for countries to settle their differences; a position that Clausewitz never takes, because Clausewitz is very clearly describing what is, no what should be. Fo [...]

    By no means a ”History of Warfare” (and that title is a cheating of the buyer), the book is also not even a book in itself, but just an overgrown academic pompous 400 pages essay with no structure or clear idea of what it wants and where it goes. It s just an obsessive ramble about how Clausewitz is wrong, but not exactly about what could be put instead of his ideas. And how could one call himself a military historian and write things like ”From whatever reasons - the subject is extremely [...]

    Though ostensibly a refutation of Clausewitz's theory of war (policy by other means and all that) A History of Warfare does not get mired in theory, and treats the reader to an overview of war as it was practiced by various peoples at various times. In Clausewitz's view war is a practical violence, like a game of chess played with meat. Perhaps sometimes it is, but it is also otherwise — a practice at odds with the goals of those who would be its master, an anachronism preserved against innova [...]

    I read this book back when it came out and picked it up again just to see if I'd find it as enlightening now, 20 years on, as I did when I first read it.As an overview of the world history of war and conflict, Keegan does an admirable job. By necessity in a book in which large swaths of history are being described, any number of details and conflicts will be ignored or given short shrift. The particulars of African warfare are dealt with by describing the Zulu under Shaka, which makes as much se [...]

    Renowned military historian John Keegan succeeds admirably in the difficult task of providing a coherent narrative for humanity's age-old proclivity for armed conflict. From Assyrian charioteers to the advent of the machine gun and the world destroying potential of the nuclear age, this is something of a must-read for anyone baffled as to why, in the 21st century, we seem to be fighting just as many wars as we always did.

    "Why do men fight?" I had picked this book up at random one day and opened it to find this question. Flicking through I saw that he delved into the debate about the Yanomamo, and Chagnon's extremely contested anthropological research in that community - concluding that this was an innately warlike people. This is an area that I find fascinating, so I put the book on my to-read list.Keegan tackles Clausewitz's dictum, that war is the continuation of politics by other means (a reductive translatio [...]

    Upon re-reading. This book still confounds me. One one hand, culture! Yes! On the other hand, the willful(?) misreading of Clausewitz and the insistence on going 12 rounds with the Prussian is problematic. There's room for both, you know. Clausewitz certainly must be contextualize - to quote John Lynn, "Clausewitz is culture!" Further, Keegan's conclusion that humans are moving from an “undoubtedly warlike past towards [a] potentially peaceful future” strikes me as ludicrous on the face of i [...]

    It all starts with the great Clausewitzian statement that war is the continuation of politics by other means.Keegan spends 500 exhaustive pages thoroughly and methodically demolishing that supposition. By exploring every form of warfare from ceremonial tribal forms of battle all the way through modern Mutually Assured Destruction, he argues that for most of human history, warfare is characterized by ritual, caution, aversion, and brevity.It is only the specifically modern, western forms of warfa [...]

    This is a book to studied and to be read more than once. Keegan makes the case that we will eventually just plain, damn outgrow war much as children outgrow diapers. Keegan equates war with other infantile behavior like slavery and human sacrifice. Keegan takes his time coming to his conclusion. He first has to sail round the world and across the centuries to document the different types of warfare (it is likely that people from all societies are taken aback by the word "types") ; I believe that [...]

    This should have properly been titled "The History of Western Warfare". Hardly any space is given to the wars fought in China and India, especially during the period of China's Warring States. I was also very disappointed by the author's attempt to attribute the "brave", "in your face" method of warfare as being uniquely Western while characterising the methods of war practised by non Westerners as being hit and run or ritualisitc or in some way, not daring to meet the enemy head on, unlike the [...]

    Definitely not an easy book, Keegan did his work and he wants you to know that. He is not a fan of Clausewitz's ideas, and a large part of the book focuses on counterarguments to Clausewitz's ideas, Keegan draws on many counterexamples where war is nota continuation of politics with other means (ritualistic war - marauding war, the Zulu style where politics became the continuation of continuous warfare, etc pp.). A large part of the beginning of the book is reserved to show how Clausewitz's idea [...]

    Aldous Huxley said an intellectual was a person who had discovered something more interesting than sex. A civilised man, it might be said, is someone who has discovered something more satisfying than combat. – p. 227I read about things I think I should know about, for example, quantum computing, the globalized market for fresh-cut flowers, and the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. Warfare also seems to be something worth paying attention to, since it sadly isn't going away. So this book see [...]

    A History of Warfare is probably one of the most interesting (and dense) nonfiction books I've read, even considering all the ones I read during my years in college. John Keegan is able to paint a fairly good picture of where aggression--warfare, as we call it now--came from by analyzing the findings of anthropologists studying tribal people. He is then able to move us forward by logically filling in the gaps between that stage and the point where recorded history begins. All of this is done in [...]

    I decided to read this one after listening to a course on Military History from the Teaching Company. I've always had a fondness for military history, and figured that this would expand my knowledge and baseline.This book turned out to be a bit more than I expected, though not in a bad way. More than just a military history, Keegan's History of Warfare is an attack against the Clausewitzian notion that "war is a continuation of politics by other means". Instead, Keegan argues that war is a cultu [...]

    Well-researched and skillfully delivered, A History of Warfare follows humanity's warmaking tendencies from the tribal times up to the nuclear-weapons realities of the Cold War. Keegan picks representative civilizations in each era and shows how their culture/environment shaped their concept of war and the way it was carried out (eg. the mobile cavalry of ancient steppe-nomads or the tight formations and the pitched battle to death of the classical Greeks).The approach has the downside of not of [...]

    Well like everyone else I began reading A History of Warfare so I could point out the grievous errors of arms and tactics made in fantasy ("that's not how you swing a halberd!" etc.) but I came away with so much more. The base that Keegan works off is one of old warhorse Clauzwitz's sayings, and it's one he continually refers back to. Then we're taken on a grand adventure, back to the dawn of time and then ever forward, finding out the hows and whys of so many civilisations and how they settled [...]

    A small collection of essays on the history of warfare, starting with the beginning of recorded history and ending with Gulf War I (at which time this book was written). John Keegan brings an encyclopedic knowledge to bear, but this is not an encyclopedia of warfare. Rather, it is a handful of detailed but crisp and concise essays, taking as their central thesis the explosion of the famous quotation from Clausewitz that war is the continuation of politics by other means. This is a terrific book [...]

    This is really not my field - not even remotely - so this book has essentially been acting as an introductory text on warfare for me. As such, I think it's a successful one. Keegan covers a range of times and cultures, but more importantly he does so accessibly. His is a very readable account, when very often academics tend to write more for their colleagues (and posterity) than the general public. It did take me a while to wade through it, but I feel as if I've understood what I've read, and fo [...]

    A very interesting book. Such an indepth look into the history of warfare, the ceremony, symbolism, the technological advances and what that meant for modern warfare. It's a shame John Keegan passed away, I would have loved a revised version that included gang warefare. The idea that small societies live in a warlike state, I think would have been an interesting study. In the end, I believe in his premise that war is not the continuation of policy by other means, like Clausewitz proposed, but as [...]

    Keegan's writing style is very dry, almost dusty. However he writes with an eye for detail that has been well researched. He charts the way warfare has developed over the centuries with the advent of each technological leap from close quarters stabbing to the high tech video missile. He also outlines the way that armies have changed in their structure and complexity. In terms of its relevence to modern political and military history I would rate it alongside Sun Tsu and von Clausewitz. I don't t [...]

    I'm starting to think audio books aren't for me. It's easy to get side tracked without something in your hands in front of you. It's also hard to listen to history books with little change of tone. It's like a boring old history prof or something. I also found this book repetitive and also repeated a lot of stuff I've read in other history books. I'm not familiar with Clausewitz at all which Keegan spends the majority of the book refuting which makes it even less exciting. A book about war for t [...]

    This is one of my favorite books on war not because it is the best possible history or because everything that Keegan states can be taken as completely true. Its pleasure comes from the story he tells about war and man and civilization. Broken into chapters around key weapon types like Stone, Flesh, Iron, and Fire, he creates a history and group psychology for homo sapiens through the lens of war. Others have done this through the lens of rum, or salt, or medicine. This happens to use war, and i [...]

    I don't know that this book was bad per se, but I don't think I got any particular insight into the nature of warfare from it. I think that the main reason I find it lacking is that these days anything purporting to explain a socio-cultural phenomenon as widespread and important as warfare without at least acknowledging the strong role of incentives (e.g. public choice theory) feels incomplete. It's possible Keegan mentioned incentives and I did not catch it, but it's certainly not his central t [...]

    Keegan is a great writer, and I'd read him on almost any subject; but the subject of warfare is the one he has made his own, and I'm interested in it anyway. Fascinating account of the purposes and evolution of warfare. There isn't any hint of a reductive analysis (he doesn't reduce all of warfare to one or even several single purposes), but it's reassuring to read someone who simply assumes as a given that as often as not war has been about access to resources--land to grow food, the stored wea [...]

    This is a strange book for me to be reading. I am not a student of military history. My understanding of war consisted of "War is evil". But history does seem to show us that "only the dead have seen the end of war", making war something that we all need to understand.If you want to understand war. This book is one you need to read. It's not a hard read, its not a dull read. A History of Warfare is an extremely educational read

    Never finished this book, got about 107 pages in and gave up. Too thickly written for me, and I consider myself fairly intelligent.

    This was really good, and the scope of Keegan's work is immense. He has written a history of warfare rang from prehistory to the cusp of the 21st century, and global in its outlook. His main contention is that war is primarily an expression of culture, and has as many manifestations as there are variations human culture.He begins with a critique of Clausewitz's theory that war is the continuation of politics by other means. He contends that warriors are different to other men, tribal in their ou [...]

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