Ride of the Second Horseman: The Birth and Death of War Reprint Edition

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195119206
ISBN-10: 0195119207
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Ride of the Second Horseman: The Birth and Death of War + Of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In his Of Arms and Men (LJ 12/88), senior intelligence analyst O'Connell traced the rise of warfare from the classical period to the present. In this work, he reconsiders the 10,000 years prior to the Greeks to probe the origins of war. O'Connell takes a social approach, noting that war emerges from changes in the economic and social order, especially in the production of food and in the cycles of famine and disease. He centers his exhaustive and superb analysis on the rise of agriculture and domestication of animals and the subsequent effects in various societies (nomadic, pastoral, urban) and in various civilizations (Asia, Europe, and the New World). O'Connell says that this "plant trap" leads to warfare that serves the combatants' social purpose, although the amount and type of war varies with the social order of different periods and places. He concludes, however, that war is an anachronism in modern societies because the rise of industrialization and the shift in values in the past 200 years have led to a change in the control humans have over the conditions supporting war. This scholarly, thoughtful, well-written book will be valuable to the serious student of war, anthropology, history, and politics. Highly recommended.
Richard B. Finnegan, Stonehill Coll., North Easton, Mass.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"A thoroughly provocative, readable and absorbing study which makes [the] reader reflect on man's motivations....Read his book for pleasure and wisdom."--The Washington Post


"A wonderfully original book on war, a genuinely synthetic argument that weaves together ideas from a wide array of disciplines. It deserves to be read and pondered."--Times Literary Supplement


"[An] interesting study of why people have gone to war over the years."--Star-Ledger


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (October 23, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195119207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195119206
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,264,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chris Crawford on November 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book greatly impressed me with its synthesis of recent evolutionary theory, anthropology, and history. It goes far beyond earlier histories of the genesis of war, presenting a cogent overall hypothesis: that a culture's means of obtaining food determined the character of it conception warfare. He shows how China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Mexico, and Peru all developed different notions of warfare that arose directly from their agricultural economies. This book has much in common with Jared Diamond's magnificent Guns, Germs, and Steel. I wish that it enjoyed more of the latter's commercial success.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
The philosophies of Hobbes and Rousseau consider the questions: Is war innate to humans or is war innate to civilization? Robert L. O'Connell answers "no" to both. Instead, O'Connell contends that humans were without war for most of their existence, and have only found it and maintained it because of its utility for the maintence of society. Once war no longer serves its purpose, then it is no longer necessary. At the time of this publication, O'Connell contended that this was coming true. This book explores how and why war arose, and argues that there is hope for its extinction.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By César González Rouco on May 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
There are already some good reviews, so I will only suggest reading the following books on war in addition to O'Connell's: a) "War in human civilization" by Azar Gat; b) "War before Civilization. The Myth of the Peaceful Savage", by Lawrence Keeley; c) "How War Began" by Keith F. Otterbein; d) "War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires" by Peter Turchin; and e) "War and the Law of Nations: A General History" by Stephen Neff.
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2 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is another prime example of why academic books don't sell! The style is the most obtuse I've encountered and completely fails on clarity. Many of his suppositions are highly speculative and he makes far too many leaps of faith.
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