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Zusammenfassung von War

Margaret MacMillan

How Conflict Shaped Us

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25 Min.

Kurz zusammengefasst

"War" by Margaret MacMillan is a historical analysis of the causes, conduct and consequences of war. It not only explores famous battles but also the impact of war on society, politics, and culture.

Inhaltsübersicht

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    Humans have always made war – and we may be genetically programmed to do so.

    Nestled in the Swiss alps is the quaint town of Bolzano. One of its major attractions is Ötzi, otherwise known as the Iceman. Ötzi is the mummified corpse of a man who lived around 3300 BC, well before the Great Pyramids were constructed in Egypt or Stonehenge was built in ancient Britain.

    How did Ötzi die? At first, archaeologists thought that he’d gotten lost in the mountains and frozen to death. But eventually they discovered something very different: Ötzi’s body was covered in cuts and bruises, and an arrowhead stuck out from his shoulder. His own knife and arrowheads had blood on them. So it seems Ötzi died in a fight. 

    His story shows that humans have been wounding and killing each other since at least the later Stone Age. But why?

    The key message here is: Humans have always made war – and we may be genetically programmed to do so.

    For decades, scientists believed that early humans lived peaceful, nomadic hunter-gatherer lives. But now, researchers are almost certain that organized, armed conflict has always been part of our existence. 

    Does that mean war is encoded in our biology? Are we genetically programmed to fight? To discover the answer to that question, scientists have studied chimpanzees and bonobos – humans’ closest genetic relatives. 

    What they’ve found is, unfortunately, inconclusive. On the one hand, chimps can be quite violent. They start deadly conflicts with little or no provocation. The bonobos, on the other hand, are seemingly much more peaceful. When two bonobos first meet, for instance, they gaze at one another, share food, and embrace rather than attack.

    So which one is more like us? The answer may be neither. That’s because, as history clearly shows, humans are capable of both extreme violence and far-reaching cooperation.

    We’re still driven by the same evolutionary forces that shaped our species at the dawn of humanity. Some of them – like the desire for food – can make us violent. But we have also, in a sense, domesticated ourselves. We can choose not to go to war, or we can go to war in service of more abstract ideas, like honor or religion. 

    Let’s dive a little deeper into reasons for war.

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    Worum geht es in War?

    War (2020) is a philosophical inquiry into the nature of human conflict. It considers war from different angles, examining what causes it, how we think about it, and how it affects us. By making an effort to understand war, we become better prepared to avoid it.

    Bewertung von War

    War by Margaret MacMillan (2014) offers a comprehensive exploration of the complex history and nature of war, compelling readers to delve into its intricacies. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • With meticulous research and analysis, the book sheds light on the causes, conduct, and consequences of war, providing a deeper understanding of this enduring human phenomenon.
    • Through vivid storytelling and personal accounts, MacMillan brings history to life, making the book engaging and insightful.
    • By examining different perspectives and reflecting on the role of individuals and societies, the book forces readers to contemplate war's impact on humanity, making it thought-provoking and relevant.

    Bestes Zitat aus War

    Nationalism provided the passion for war, the Industrial Revolution the tools, and the changes in society the bodies to fight . . . . 

    —Margaret MacMillan
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    Wer War lesen sollte

    • Students of international and military history 
    • People interested in cultural and philosophical differences
    • Anyone fascinated or affected by human conflict

    Über den Autor

    Margaret MacMillan is a historian, professor emerita of international history at Oxford University, and professor emerita of history at the University of Toronto. In 2018, she was the Reith lecturer, giving talks in five major cities on the subject of war. She is also a fellow of the Royal Society for Literature and the best-selling author of Paris 1919, which won numerous awards, and The War That Ended Peace, which was named a New York Times Notable Book.

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    War FAQs 

    What is the main message of War?

    The main message of War is a thought-provoking exploration of the causes and consequences of warfare.

    How long does it take to read War?

    The reading time for War varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is War a good book? Is it worth reading?

    War is a captivating book that offers valuable insights into the history of conflicts. It is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in understanding the complex nature of war.

    Who is the author of War?

    The author of War is Margaret MacMillan.