The Shield of Achilles by Philip Bobbitt
War, Peace, and the Course of History

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Synopsis

"We are at a moment in world affairs when the essential ideas that govern statecraft must change. For five centuries it has taken the resources of a state to destroy another state . . . This is no longer true, owing to advances in international telecommunications, rapid computation, and weapons of mass destruction. The change in statecraft that will accompany these developments will be as profound as any that the State has thus far undergone."
—from the Prologue

The Shield of Achilles is a classic inquiry into the nature of the State, its origin in war, and its drive for peace and legitimacy. Philip Bobbitt, a professor of constitutional law and a historian of nuclear strategy, has served in the White House, the Senate, the State Department, and the National Security Council in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and here he brings his formidable experience and analytical gifts to bear on our changing world. Many have observed that the nation-state is dying, yet others have noted that the power of the State has never been greater. Bobbitt reconciles this paradox and introduces the idea of the market-state, which is already replacing its predecessor. Along the way he treats such themes as the Long War (which began in 1914 and ended in 1990). He explains the relation of violence to legitimacy, and the role of key individuals in fates that are partially—but only partially—determined.

This book anticipates the coalitional war against terrorism and lays out alternative futures for the world. Bobbitt shows how nations might avoid the great power confrontations that have a potential for limitless destruction, and he traces the origin and evolution of the State to such wars and the peace conferences that forged their outcomes into law, from Augsburg to Westphalia to Utrecht to Vienna to Versailles.

The author paints a powerful portrait of the ever-changing interrelatedness of our world, and he uses his expertise in law and strategy to discern the paths that statehood will follow in the coming years and decades. Timely and perceptive, The Shield of Achilles will change the way we think about the world.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Philip Bobbitt

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Philip Bobbitt has taught constitutional law and international security and strategy at the University of Texas, Harvard, and Columbia, where he has a permanent chair and is Director of the Center for National Security. He was Legal Counsel to the Senate's Iran-Contra Committee, Counselor for International Law at the State Department under George H. W. Bush, director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council, senior director for Critical Infrastructure, and senior director for Strategic Planning under Bill Clinton. The author of The Shield of Achilles, and Terror and Consent, he lives in New York, London, and Austin.
 
Published July 6, 2011 by Anchor. 962 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Shield of Achilles

Publishers Weekly

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The world is at a pivotal point, argues Bobbitt, as the nation-state, developed over six centuries as the optimal institution for waging war and organizing peace, gives way to the market-state. Nat

Mar 25 2002 | Read Full Review of The Shield of Achilles: War, ...

The Guardian

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The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History Philip Bobbitt Penguin £25, pp993 The shield of Achilles was hammered and forged into shape, according to The Iliad, by Hephaestus, who inscribed on it the history of its own making, a tormented saga of unremitting strife, havoc and de...

Jun 16 2002 | Read Full Review of The Shield of Achilles: War, ...

Publishers Weekly

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The world is at a pivotal point, argues Bobbitt, as the nation-state, developed over six centuries as the optimal institution for waging war and organizing peace, gives way to the market-state.

| Read Full Review of The Shield of Achilles: War, ...

London Review of Books

Indeed, both insist that there is no alternative to the state as the basic unit of political action and political understanding, and that the choice in the conditions of 21st-century global capitalism is between different forms of the state, not between the state and something else.

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Asian Review of Books

... It takes a certain amount of dedication to plow through a book about the history ...
The Shield of Achilles has several theses, some of which are easier to ....
Reviews of The Black Coat, The Dark Road, Snow Hunters, And the ...

Aug 05 2003 | Read Full Review of The Shield of Achilles: War, ...

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