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War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots [Kindle Edition]

Ian Morris
5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)

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Praise for War! What Is It Good For?

“Ian Morris’ evidence that war has benefited our species—albeit inadvertently—is provocative, compelling, and fearless. This book is equally horrific and inspiring, detailed and sweeping, light-hearted and deadly serious. For those who think war has been a universal disaster it will change the way they think about the course of history.” —Richard Wrangham, author of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence and Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

“Perhaps you think that you already know everything about the history of all peoples on all the continents for the last 15,000 years. Even if you do, you’ll still get a fresh perspective from this thought-provoking book. With this volume and his previous Why the West Rules—for Now, Ian Morris has established himself as a leader in making big history interesting and understandable.” —Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

“That war is the antithesis of everything we cherish in our modern civilization is that one rare idea nobody would dare disagree with in polite company. Nobody except Ian Morris that is. This delightful, erudite and thought-provoking book challenges some of our core beliefs. Morris argues, fairly convincingly, that far from being its antithesis, war is the mainspring of our civilization, and we are far from the last chapter of the history that war has made. You will be surprised, informed, entertained and most importantly challenged by this book.” —Daron Acemoglu, coauthor of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

“We now live in a far safer, healthier, and more prosperous world than any of our ancestors ever did. Ian Morris has drawn upon a breathtaking array of data from paleography, anthropology, history, psychology, and political science to demonstrate the unpalatable but inescapable truth that we do so thanks to what has for centuries been seen as mankind’s greatest scourge: war.Written with all of Morris’ habitual narrative flair, this brilliant book will surely change forever the way we think about human conflict and what we should attempt to do about it in the future.” —Anthony Pagden, author of Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West



A powerful and provocative exploration of how war has changed our society—for the better

“War! . . . . / What is it good for? / Absolutely nothing,” says the famous song—but archaeology, history, and biology show that war in fact has been good for something. Surprising as it sounds, war has made humanity safer and richer.

In War! What Is It Good For?, the renowned historian and archaeologist Ian Morris tells the gruesome, gripping story of fifteen thousand years of war, going beyond the battles and brutality to reveal what war has really done to and for the world. Stone Age people lived in small, feuding societies and stood a one-in-ten or even one-in-five chance of dying violently. In the twentieth century, by contrast—despite two world wars, Hiroshima, and the Holocaust—fewer than one person in a hundred died violently. The explanation: War, and war alone, has created bigger, more complex societies, ruled by governments that have stamped out internal violence. Strangely enough, killing has made the world safer, and the safety it has produced has allowed people to make the world richer too.

War has been history’s greatest paradox, but this searching study of fifteen thousand years of violence suggests that the next half century is going to be the most dangerous of all time. If we can survive it, the age-old dream of ending war may yet come to pass. But, Morris argues, only if we understand what war has been good for can we know where it will take us next.



  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 7025 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 512 Seiten
  • Verlag: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (15. April 2014)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00FOB3IU4
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
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  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #157.997 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Ein absolutes Superbuch 3. September 2014
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Anstatt sich immer nur mit Varus, Hermann und dem großen Karl zu beschäftigen, sollte man sich lieber mal mehr mit der globalen Zivilisationsgeschichte auseinander setzen, wie es Morris in seinen lesenswerten Büchern macht. Das Buch bietet dem historisch Interessierten absolut neue Erkenntnisse und Einsichten.
Mit einem seiner Aussagen war ich nicht einverstanden und teilte ihm dies per E-Mail mit. Morris antwortete postwendend: you are quiete right.
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.8 von 5 Sternen  29 Rezensionen
34 von 45 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Necessary argument and necessary book. 19. April 2014
Von Curt D - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Ian Morris,

While I agree with your premise, I'd like to suggest a minor refinement to your theory.

It is not that states are bigger, but that the more homogenous the rules are within any geography the lower the transaction costs (friction of cooperation), and therefore the decrease in risk and increase in velocity of trade. And with the increase in velocity of trade comes the resulting wealth.

This is perhaps too much economic-speak for your audience but it is the causal reason behind your observation. I think that given certain examples: Greece, Rome, and England, your argument is true. But I think the counter examples are the Mongols, Arabs, the Russians and the Turks. All of which are predatory and extractive governments.

What troubles me about your argument is that as you've positioned it, without this clarification that it's the homogeneity of rules and whether the rules are extractive or constructive, then it's not exactly true. Because the highest trust, most economically advanced regions of the world - Northern Europe - did not evolve from or into large states, and instead maintained a large number of very small states, all of which adhered to the same ethical rules.

It was the large state that was created by Napoleon, and his invention of "total war" combining credit, conscription and total mobilization of the state for the conduct of war, that destroyed the small state model by forcing the german principalities to unify into the german empire. It was this series of actions that eventually led to the great european civil war that appears to have brought european civilization to an end.

Large states are an inhibition on progress, not a contributor to it. They make it easier to finance war, and increase the militarization of those around them.

The problem of creating prosperity is in evolving a large number of small states on the greek or northern european model that conduct mutually beneficial and constantly competing systems of trade wherein the governments cannot be terribly extractive because traders will move to other governments - competition is good for governments too. This resulting trade forces the migration or evolution of local ethics to conform to the Smithian ethics of trade.

So what produces prosperity and peace are not one in the same. Peach can be achieved in a slave colony. But prosperity is created when war is conducted for the purpose of improving trade by imposing trade-advancing rules. In the west we call these private property rights because we have extinguished the tribal and familial boundaries. You can think of war for the purpose of facilitating trade as beneficial and war for the purpose of conquest and extraction as not.

Russia for example, as were the Mongols, and the Arabs, is a net promotor of corruption that harms trade. Soviet conquests in eastern Europe, as well as Turkish conquests in Europe, were culturally and economically devastating to those countries because Russian an Turkic and Arab societies rely upon the low trust tribal and familial ethics, not individualism. The Anglosphere is at the other end of the spectrum, which imposes its high-trust ethics on the world by both military and financial means, using the wealth from trade as an incentive.

Curt Doolittle , The Propertarian Institute , Kiev
10 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Magnificently Counter-Intuitive 14. Mai 2014
Von John D. Cofield - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
One of the hallmarks of a great work of history is a bold and controversial claim which is then supported by a heavily documented and fascinating text. Ian Morris, a professor of Classics and History at Stanford University, has demonstrated with War! What Is It Good For? that he fully deserves to be numbered among modern masters of the craft of producing brilliantly counter-intuitive history. I found War! What Is It Good For? to be both absorbing and provocative, filled with impresive analyses of the past and predictions for the future and supported by meticulous notes, suggestions for further reading, and a long and detailed bibliography.

It is a truism that war is a "Bad Thing," wasting resources and human potential and, even when it is brief and relatively unbloody, leaving the world much worse off. Morris does not necessarily disagree here (it is an enormous exaggeration to maintain, as have some, that he is a war-monger), but his main thesis holds that war has been beneficial to humans throughout history by encouraging the development of bigger, more complex societies with governments powerful enough (Morris aptly calls them Leviathans) to enforce law and order, thus allowing civilization to expand and prosper.

Morris amplifies and expands on this thesis in a series of five chapters tracing humanity's warlike ways from prehistory through the end of the Cold War. He freely makes use of such paradoxical terms as "productive war" and provides a series of fascinating and colorful anecdotes to illustrate his claims. I enjoyed his cross cultural comparisons and appreciated his refusal to fall into the trap of "Western exceptionalism," even in Chapter 4 which covers Europe's rise to global power. The final two chapters are probably the most important. Chapter 6: "Red in Tooth and Claw: Why the Chimps of Gombe Went to War," hearkens back to some of Morris' themes in the earlier chapters in examining what it is about human beings and our closer relatives that seems to pre-dispose us to violence, while 7 "The Last Best Hope of Earth: American Empire, 1989 -?" provides some intriguing (if sometimes disturbing) analyses of various scenarios which might play out over the coming decades.

The counter-intuitive nature of Morris' title and thesis will cause many to assume that he is advocating for war and violence as positive goods. Those who bother to read more than the blurbs will recognize that the title is not meant to be a celebration but rather an ironic acknowledgement of a truth we may be reluctant to accept. And even more importantly, they will also recognize that Morris not only explains the benefits of conflict, he also points the way towards a future in which conflict has become less necessary.
4 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen An excellent book but.... 16. Juni 2014
Von J. Hale - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Ian Morris makes an excellent argument that war has spurred economic and scientific progress and even the growth of civilization. But the introduction to his book shows the degree that his argument rests almost on pure chance. He cites an incident from 1983 when a software bug in the computer system that oversaw the Soviet Union's missile forces signaled that the United States was launching ICBMs over the north pole. If not for a skeptical officer on duty that night, everything Morris says in his book about the benefits of war would have been proved very, very wrong.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Enjoyable read with serious flaws 15. August 2014
Von Bob Kopp - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I want to give this book four stars, because it's an enjoyable, thought provoking read on the role of war in the sweep of human history. I have at least a couple major concerns, however:

1) Much rides for Morris's theory on the distinction between "productive" war, which leads to increased social complexity, and "counterproductive" war, which leads to decreasing social complexity. Though he provides some suggestions as to the character of each, much of the distinction seems apparently only after the fact. But after the fact, this distinction is tautological -- by definition a war was productive if it led to increased social complexity. This wouldn't necessarily be a huge problem if Morris's aim were only to provide a framework for describing the past,

2) After providing an overview of patterns Morris argues are visible only at the multi-century scale, he goes a bit off the rails in trying to say something useful about the 21st century. (Note that he has not established previously that his model has any predictive, rather than merely descriptive, power.)

A single historical analogue (to the British Empire), he says, seems to suggest that the American-led global system will fall apart in a couple decades. Counterproductive war with modern technology would be extraordinarily counterproductive, so hopefully that won't happen. Then he pulls a rabbit out of a hat in the form of a technological Singularity, which will replace the Pax Americana with a globally-connected Mind and bring violence to zero.

However, if a Singularity is actually a Singularity, known laws break down and we can't say anything informative; moreover, the post-Singularity peacemaker Morris describes sounds like nothing so much as the Borg, though he apparently isn't familiar enough with science fiction to realize that attempts to assimilate humanity will probably provoke a very violent reaction...

I understand why Morris felt the need to say something useful, but he's already established that he is only talking about patterns that are visible at a time scale longer than the next few decades, so this chapter is largely groundless speculation. It's an unfortunate conclusion to an otherwise engaging book.
10 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Outstanding read...thought provoking 30. April 2014
Von Zarathustra - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Fascinating look at the rise of Leviathan through a multi-disciplined framework that asks the provocative question on the merits of war. Tremendously easy read with valuable insight into where violence began and perhaps where it is going, while arguing that death rates have actually decreased through war rather than the alternative. As a national security aficionado, the implications and conclusions made me question some deep held beliefs and my worldview.
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