Civil Wars by David Armitage
A History in Ideas

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It’s hard to imagine a more timely work for today. Historians, political scientists and theorists, and policy makers will find it indispensable.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

A highly original history, tracing the least understood and most intractable form of organized human aggression from Ancient Rome through the centuries to the present day.

We think we know civil war when we see it. Yet ideas of what it is, and what it isn't, have a long and contested history, from its fraught origins in republican Rome to debates in early modern Europe to our present day. Defining the term is acutely political, for ideas about what makes a war "civil" often depend on whether one is a ruler or a rebel, victor or vanquished, sufferer or outsider. Calling a conflict a civil war can shape its outcome by determining whether outside powers choose to get involved or stand aside: from the American Revolution to the war in Iraq, pivotal decisions have depended on such shifts of perspective.

The age of civil war in the West may be over, but elsewhere in the last two decades it has exploded--from the Balkans to Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, and Sri Lanka, and most recently Syria. And the language of civil war has burgeoned as democratic politics has become more violently fought. This book's unique perspective on the roots and dynamics of civil war, and on its shaping force in our conflict-ridden world, will be essential to the ongoing effort to grapple with this seemingly interminable problem.
 

About David Armitage

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DAVID ARMITAGE is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University, where he teaches intellectual history and international history, and former Chair of Harvard’s History Department. His many publications include The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (2000) and The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (2007).Social media: Twitter @davidrarmitage
Author Residence: Cambridge, MA
 
Published February 7, 2017 by Knopf. 368 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Civil Wars
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Aug 25 2017

It’s hard to imagine a more timely work for today. Historians, political scientists and theorists, and policy makers will find it indispensable.

Read Full Review of Civil Wars: A History in Ideas | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

The Economist

Good
on Feb 09 2017

The meaning of civil war, as Mr Armitage shows, is as messy and multifaceted as the conflict it describes. His book offers an illuminating guide through the 2,000-year muddle and does a good job of filling a conspicuous void in the literature of conflict.

Read Full Review of Civil Wars: A History in Ideas | See more reviews from The Economist

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