Ride of the second horseman: the birth and death of war

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Publisher:
Oxford University Press,
Pub. Date:
1995.
Language:
English
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"Accurst be he that first invented war," wrote Christopher Marlowe--a declaration that most of us would take as a literary, not literal, construction. But in this sweeping overview of the rise of civilization, Robert O'Connell finds that war is indeed an invention--an institution that arosedue to very specific historical circumstances, an institution that now verges on extinction. In Ride of the Second Horseman, O'Connell probes the distant human past to show how and why war arose. He begins with a definition that distinguishes between war and mere feuding: war involves group rather than individual issues, political or economic goals, and direction by some governmentalstructure, carried out with the intention of lasting results. With this definition, he finds that ants are the only other creatures that conduct it--battling other colonies for territory and slaves. But ants, unlike humans, are driven by their genes; in humans, changes in our culture and subsistencepatterns, not our genetic hardware, brought the rise of organized warfare. O'Connell draws on anthropology and archeology to locate the rise of war sometime after the human transition from nomadic hunting and gathering to agriculture, when society split between farmers and pastoralists. Around 5500BC, these pastoralists initiated the birth of war with raids on Middle Eastern agricultural settlements. The farmers responded by ringing their villages with walls, setting off a process of further social development, intensified combat, and ultimately the rise of complex urban societies dependentupon warfare to help stabilize what amounted to highly volatile population structures, beset by frequent bouts of famine and epidemic disease. In times of overpopulation, the armies either conquered new lands or self-destructed, leaving fewer mouths to feed. In times of underpopulation, slaves weretaken to provide labor. O'Connell explores the histories of the civilizations of ancient Sumeria, Egypt, Assyria, China, and the New World, showing how war came to each and how it adapted to varying circumstances. On the other hand, societies based on trade employed war much more selectively andpragmatically. Thus, Minoan Crete, long protected from marauding pastoralists, developed a wealthy mercantile society marked by unmilitaristic attitudes, equality between men and women, and a relative absence of class distinctions. In Assyria, by contrast, war came to be an end in itself, in aculture dominated by male warriors. Despite the violence in the world today, O'Connell finds reason for hope. The industrial revolution broke the old patterns of subsistence: war no longer serves the demographic purpose it once did. Fascinating and provocative, Ride of the Second Horseman offers a far-reaching tour of human historythat suggests the age-old cycle of war may now be near its end.
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9780195064605
9780195119206
9781423739050
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Grouped Work ID 023bec47-0b49-bd0c-098c-d673314d662c
Grouping Title ride of the second horseman the birth and death of war
Grouping Author oconnell robert l
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2019-05-08 03:13:50AM
Last Indexed 2019-05-20 04:13:11AM

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display_description "Accurst be he that first invented war," wrote Christopher Marlowe--a declaration that most of us would take as a literary, not literal, construction. But in this sweeping overview of the rise of civilization, Robert O'Connell finds that war is indeed an invention--an institution that arosedue to very specific historical circumstances, an institution that now verges on extinction. In Ride of the Second Horseman, O'Connell probes the distant human past to show how and why war arose. He begins with a definition that distinguishes between war and mere feuding: war involves group rather than individual issues, political or economic goals, and direction by some governmentalstructure, carried out with the intention of lasting results. With this definition, he finds that ants are the only other creatures that conduct it--battling other colonies for territory and slaves. But ants, unlike humans, are driven by their genes; in humans, changes in our culture and subsistencepatterns, not our genetic hardware, brought the rise of organized warfare. O'Connell draws on anthropology and archeology to locate the rise of war sometime after the human transition from nomadic hunting and gathering to agriculture, when society split between farmers and pastoralists. Around 5500BC, these pastoralists initiated the birth of war with raids on Middle Eastern agricultural settlements. The farmers responded by ringing their villages with walls, setting off a process of further social development, intensified combat, and ultimately the rise of complex urban societies dependentupon warfare to help stabilize what amounted to highly volatile population structures, beset by frequent bouts of famine and epidemic disease. In times of overpopulation, the armies either conquered new lands or self-destructed, leaving fewer mouths to feed. In times of underpopulation, slaves weretaken to provide labor. O'Connell explores the histories of the civilizations of ancient Sumeria, Egypt, Assyria, China, and the New World, showing how war came to each and how it adapted to varying circumstances. On the other hand, societies based on trade employed war much more selectively andpragmatically. Thus, Minoan Crete, long protected from marauding pastoralists, developed a wealthy mercantile society marked by unmilitaristic attitudes, equality between men and women, and a relative absence of class distinctions. In Assyria, by contrast, war came to be an end in itself, in aculture dominated by male warriors. Despite the violence in the world today, O'Connell finds reason for hope. The industrial revolution broke the old patterns of subsistence: war no longer serves the demographic purpose it once did. Fascinating and provocative, Ride of the Second Horseman offers a far-reaching tour of human historythat suggests the age-old cycle of war may now be near its end.
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publishDate 1995, 1997
record_details Ebrary (CCU):EBC241262|eBook|eBook|Paperback ed.|English|Oxford University Press,|1997, c1995.|viii, 305 p., Ebsco (ASU):ocm70744979|eBook|eBook|Pbk. ed.|English|Oxford University Press,|1997, ©1995.|1 online resource (viii, 305 pages), Ebsco (CCU):ocm70744979|eBook|eBook|Pbk. ed.|English|Oxford University Press,|1997, ©1995.|1 online resource (viii, 305 pages), Ebsco Academic (CMC):ocm70744979|eBook|eBook|Pbk. ed.|English|Oxford University Press,|1997, ©1995.|1 online resource (viii, 305 pages), Fort Lewis Subscription eBook (EBSCO):ocm70744979|eBook|eBook|Pbk. ed.|English|Oxford University Press,|1997, ?1995.|1 online resource (viii, 305 pages), ProQuest Ebook Central (Western):EBC241262|eBook|eBook|Paperback ed.|English|Oxford University Press,|1997, c1995.|viii, 305 p., ils:.b18647315|Book|Books||English|Oxford University Press,|1995.|viii, 305 pages ; 25 cm.
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subject_facet Electronic books, HISTORY -- Military -- Other, History, Military art and science, Military art and science -- History, TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING -- Military Science, War, War -- History
title_display Ride of the second horseman : the birth and death of war
title_full Ride of the second horseman : the birth and death of war / Robert L. O'Connell, Ride of the second horseman [electronic resource] : the birth and death of war / Robert L. O'Connell
title_short Ride of the second horseman :
title_sub the birth and death of war
topic_facet HISTORY, History, Military, Military Science, Military art and science, Other, TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING, War