But how do wars begin?
In this provocative book, the AJP Taylor addresses one of the greatest questions in history.
Taylor examines eight major conflicts, from the Napoleonic era to the Cold War, discussing the motives and personalities behind the decisions to go to war.
Some wars had a long background, whilst others were brought about by the overweening ambitions of a single man - Napoleon at the beginning of the period, Hitler towards the end. Public opinion, secret diplomacy, jingoism, armament manufacturers, and even historians, have all played a role in setting nation against nation.
But often, Taylor argues, the actual declaration of a war bears little relation to its profound cause. Wars in fact have sprung more from apprehension than from a lust for conquest. Every Great Power is suspicious of any likely or even unlikely rival. What seems defence to one will always appear as aggressive preparation to another.
'With nuclear weapons the Balance of Power has been replaced by the Balance of Terror,' writes Mr Taylor. 'This only means that the chances are less, not that they have been eliminated. In the old days the deterrent worked nine times out of ten. Now presumably it will work ninety-nine times out of a hundred. But if past experience is any guide, the hundredth occasion will come.'
'How Wars Begin' is a brilliant examination of one of the most challenging of all historical issues from one of the greatest historians of his generation.
'Anything Mr Taylor writes is worth reading ... he is our greatest popular historian since Macaulay' - The Spectator
'His informal, pithy style makes the book compelling - even exciting - reading' The Irish Times
A.J.P. Taylor (1906-90) was one of the most controversial historians of the twentieth century. He served as a lecturer at the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, and London. Taylor was significant both for the controversy his work on Germany and the Second World War engendered and for his role in the development of history on television. His books include 'War By Timetable' and ‘The War Lords’, also published in e-book by Endeavour Press.
Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.