Charles Clanton Rogers

Reflections based on poetry, music, visual art, book reviews, history of science, first-person history, philosophical essays and International Blogging

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A HISTORY OF WARFARE,  by John Keegan
The Second World War started when I was seven years old.  V-E Day (Victory in Europe)  and V-J Day (Victory in Japan) and The United Nations was formed when I was only eleven years old. Being so young, I should be forgiven thinking we had had “The War to End All Wars.”  The very large Military Services did undergo a massive force reduction. Millions of returning servicemen went to college or training  on th G.I. Bill. The was enormous construction of new homes and new automobiles. For a few years, it felt like peace.

In less than five years,  war arose from the division of Korea at the end of World War II and from the global tensions of the Cold War that developed immediately afterwards. This was only a shot time out. As I studied history, I found that the nineteen twenties and thirties was only a twenty year time out.

Looking back these seventy years, (to 1945) it is obvious that a world without war was never in the cards. We needed these illusions of peace to rebuild for the next primitive attempt to redistribute power and resources.  We keep trying to prove that might makes right and that “to the victors go the spoils.”  We have lived in a state of perpetual war for centuries with only “time outs” for birthing and raising another young army and building more destructive  weapons.

War, according to Keegan is cultural. Wars may be fought for political reasons he says, but the driving force behind them is a nation’s/people’s culture. Starting with the premise that all civilizations owe their origins to war making, Keegan probes the meanings, motivations, and methods underlying war in different societies over the course of more than two thousand years. Following the progress of human aggression in its full historical sweep, from the strangely ritualistic combat of Stone Age peoples to the warfare of mass destruction in the present age, his illuminating and lively narrative gives us all the world’s great warrior cultures, including:

the Zulus,

the samurai,

the horse people of the steppe,

the famed war makers of the West.

Keegan  shows why honor has always been accorded to the soldierly virtues, whatever the cultural context, and how war has maintained its singular hold on the imagination, reaching into “the most secret places of the human heart, places where self dissolves rational purpose, where pride reigns, where emotion is paramount, where instinct is king”.

Keegan weaves the story of war with the story of human civilization, and proves that for most of our history, war has been our primary occupation. He denounces Clauswitz’ theory that war is merely the continuation of politics by showing it is something much more basic.,

John Keegan, Random House, 1993, also, Kindle Edition & Audible Books

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