A History in IdeasBook - 2017
Ideas of what civil war is, and what it isn't, have a long and contested history. Defining the term is an acutely political act: whether a war is "civil" often depends on whether one is a ruler or a rebel, victor or vanquished, participant or foreigner. Likewise, calling any particular conflict a civil war can shape its outcome by determining whether other nations choose to get involved or stand aside. This is true of many conflicts: from the American Revolution (commonly referred to as a civil war as it was waged) to the U.S. Civil War to the Second Gulf War. In each, pivotal decisions by outside powers turned on precisely such shifts of perspective.
In Civil Wars , eminent historian David Armitage offers invaluable illumination. By touching on significant developments in Western thought--the poetry of Lucan, the political theory of Thomas Hobbes, the so-called Lieber Code produced during the U.S. Civil War, to name a few--he creates a "genealogy" of our sometimes contradictory notions about civil war. The result reveals much about how this intellectual inheritance has shaped the political fortunes of our uneasy world and how we might think about this form of violence in the future.
From Library Staff
Why read this book? Because civil war “has gradually become the most widespread, the most destructive, and the most characteristic form of organized human violence”; and its incidence rose dramatically especially after the Cold War, says David Armitage, Harvard history professor. There have been ... Read More »