cover image A History of Warfare

A History of Warfare

John Keegan. Knopf Publishing Group, $32.5 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-394-58801-8

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.)