Beginning with the premise that all civilizations owe their origins to warmaking, Keegan probes the meanings, motivations, and methods underlying war in different societies over the course of more than two thousand years. Following the progress of human aggression in its full historical sweep -- from the strangely ritualistic combat of Stone Age peoples to the warfare of mass destruction in the present age -- his illuminating and lively narrative gives us all the world's great warrior cultures, including the Zulus, the samurai, and the horse peoples of the steppe, as well as the famed warmakers of the West. He shows why honor has always been accorded to the soldierly virtues, whatever the cultural context, and how war has maintained its singular hold on the imagination, reaching into "the most secret places of the human heart, where self dissolves rational purpose, where pride reigns, where emotion is paramount, where instinct is king."
In his sweeping new study, Keegan ( The Face of Battle ) examines the origins and nature of warfare, the ethos of the primitive and modern warrior and the development of weapons and defenses from the battle of Megiddo (1469 B.C.) into the nuclear age. Keegan offers a refreshingly original and challenging perspective. He characterizes warriors as the protectors of civilization rather than as its enemy and maintains that warfare is ``entirely a masculine activity.'' Though warfare has become an ingrained practice over the course of 4000 years, he argues, its manifestation in the primitive world was circumscribed by ritual and ceremony that often embodied restraint, diplomacy and negotiation. Peacekeepers, he suggests, would benefit from studying primitive warmaking--especially now, ``a time when the war of all against all already confronts us.'' A masterwork. Photos. 40,000 first printing; History Book Club main selection; BOMC alternate. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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November 01, 1994
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