The Invention of Peace


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Reflections on War and International Order

Michael Howard

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Throughout history the overwhelming majority of human societies have taken war for granted and made it the basis for their legal and social structures. Not until the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century did war come to be regarded as an unmitigated evil and one that could be abolished by rational social organization, and only after the massive slaughter of the two world wars did this become the declared objective of civilized states. Nevertheless, war in one form or another continues unabated. In this elegantly written book, a preeminent military historian considers why this is so.

Is war in some sense still a necessary element in international order? Are war and peace in fact complementary? Does not peace itself breed the conditions that will ultimately lead to war? And if nuclear weapons have made war ultimately suicidal for mankind, what can be done about it? Having devoted half a century largely to studying these questions, Michael Howard offers us his reflections. Unless they can be answered, he notes, the twenty-first century is unlikely to be any more peaceful than the centuries that preceded it.

Sir Michael Howard is Robert A. Lovett Professor Emeritus of Military and Naval History at Yale University and was Regius Professor of History at Oxford University. He is the author of many books, including The Franco-Prussian War (1961), War in European History (1976), War and the Liberal Conscience (1978), and The Lessons of History (1991, Yale University Press). He is life president of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which he helped found.

The Invention of Peace is a fine distillation of Michael Howard’s learning. He exposes how the onset of the war did not reduce the horrors of war—just the contrary. His conclusion that the eventual fading of wars between the states will not make brutal warring disappear is very important.”—John Lukacs

“A concise, thoughtfully rendered work fed by courteous intellectual passion.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The author convincingly demonstrates that the long struggle for stability among nations is not yet over.”—Publishers Weekly

“[An] astute essay on peace as an objective in international affairs.”—Booklist

“Howard’s sweeping narrative reveals the intricate relationships between warriors, capitalists, religious authority, intellectuals, state elites, and postwar order.”—G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs

“Michael Howard is one of Britain’s most distinguished military historians. . . . The bulk of The Invention of Peace is an exhilarating gallop across 1,500 years of European history as Howard shows how integral war has been to the evolution of the state. . . . [The book] is delivered with considerable clarity and grace.”—Fritz Lanham, Houston Chronicle

“Elegantly written, it is not much more than one hundred pages, but the page count is deceptive because, without a wasted word, it seems as dense with information and interpretation as a volume many times its length.”—Milton Schwebel, Readings: A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health

“[Other historians] would have been well-served by reading Michael Howard’s brilliant essay, The Invention of Peace. In it, the greatest military historian of our time calmly and patiently lays out the real dialectic between war and peace both in European history and in our own time.”—David Rieff, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“It is always a delight to read something by Sir Michael Howard. Not only is he the foremost military historian of our time, he also writes with elegance, grace, and erudition, qualities largely absent from most works of history today. . . . The Invention of Peace is a distillation of his immense knowledge of European history and international affairs that has implications for today’s policy makers as they contemplate the future of the international political system.”—Mackubin Thomas Owens, Washington Times

“Brilliant. . . . [Howard’s] argument about what is required for peace is complete and satisfying.”—Max Wilkinson, Financial Times (London)

“Howard’s thoughtful book makes it clear how difficult it will be to persuade the world that a just war, as Pope John XXIII made clear, can hardly exist in the modern world.”—Robert F. Drinan, National Catholic Reporter

“Michael Howard has once again produced an eloquent analysis of war in western history and a forceful argument for continued defense even in the pursuit of peace.”—John Whiteclay Chambers II, Journal of Military History

“Given its brevity, this is a masterly feat of compression by a thinker who wearily fears that our present efforts to preserve peace are doomed to fail, and who hopes that enough of the wisdom of the Enlightenment will survive the ensuing chaos to inspire the next attempt to establish an international order.”—Philip Towle, The International History Review

“[Howard’s] slim work beautifully explains both the horror and the fatal attraction of war.”—William Shawcross, Sunday Times (London)

“A brilliant reflection on the world in which we live, and the potential threats to it .”—Max Hastings, Evening Standard (London)

Selected as one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2001 by the Los Angeles Times Book Review
ISBN: 9780300088663
Publication Date: February 8, 2001
128 pages, 5 x 7 3/4

Sales Restrictions: For sale in North America only
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Constraints on Warfare in the Western World

Michael Howard; Edited by George Andreopoulos and Mark R.

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