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War and the Rise of the State Paperback – February 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0743237789 ISBN-10: 0743237781

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743237781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743237789
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Porter, a political scientist at Brigham Young University, demonstrates that wars have been catalysts for increasing the size and power of Western governments since the Renaissance. The state's monopoly of effective violence has diminished not only individual rights and liberties, but also the ability of local communities and private associates to challenge the centralization of authority. Porter's originality lies in his thesis that war, breaking down barriers of class, gender, ethnicity and ideology, also contributes to meritocracy, mobility, and, above all, democratization. Porter also posits the emergence of the "Scientific Warfare State," a political system in which advanced technology would render obsolete mass participation in war. This provocative study merits wide circulation and serious discussion.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Surveying the past 500 years of Western history, Porter examines the effects that warfare has had on the growth of the centralized state in the West. Although we do not like to admit it, our contemporary society clearly has been shaped by war's effects. In the United States, the demands of fighting the Civil War, two world wars, and the Cold War all influenced the contours of our government and social institutions. Porter voices concerns about the impact that the end of the Cold War will have on the overall cohesiveness of American society. Without the specter of an aggressive USSR, how will our political leaders rally the nation to solve our more intractable and messy domestic problems? Porter is not sanguine about our overcoming the very human trait of using violence to effect change. If we have not learned any lessons from the past, new and awful wars await us in the next century. This fine survey of Western military history is recommended for academic collections emphasizing military and political history.
- Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Hamill on May 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
I started reading this book solely to learn about the eighteenth century, but I found it to be so profound and well written that I had to read it al. Everyone who cares about freedom should read this book. Among the first sentences Porter says that like many people, when he first started to study history he found wars to be an annoying interruption of progress, but that he grew to appreciate that after each war the world was somehow different. The how and why are the subject of the book. Porter shows how war and the need to pay for war has led to increasing state power and larger government. Porter shows that in most European states kings used war to quash representative government, but he also shows the exceptions - Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Britain, and America. Porter shows how different circumstances in these countries helped lead to representative government of some kind. The 20th century tyrannies of fascism and communism and the rise of the welfare state are also convincing explained.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Boatwright on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book for a class called "War, Technology, and the Rise of the State", taught by Dr. Walter Opello, coauthor of The Nation-State and Global Order. Dr. Opello took Porter's word as gold although I remained highly skeptical at first, but Porter and Opello became more convincing as they presented their evidence. Porter did an excellent job of demonstrating the connection between warfare and the rise of nationalism, modernity, and subsequently the nation-state. Perhaps more interesting was the connection between modern warfare and the rise of Western social-welfare politics.

However, before war-hawks take too great a feeling of vindication from Porter's research, it should be noted the type of warfare fought post-WWII has had far less productive side-effects. A-symmetrical war, or warfare fought between uniformed soldiers and "terrorists, guerrillas, pirates, bandits, cartels, insurgents, etc" produces very little in the way of progressive social policy; post-modern wars don't end, they slowly burn indefinitely. In the end the book serves as both a valuable history lesson and staunch warning for the present.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 1999
Format: Board book
Porter's work is remarkable in both content and readibility. It is an upbeat reply to those who bemoan the general irrelevancy of the Beltway players during these times of peace and prosperity. Furthermore, it clearly documents how much the federal government undergoes growth spurts both during and immediately following the nation's wars. (Clinton himself [as unbelievably egotistical and scary as this may seem] has been quoted lamenting the fact that he is not a wartime President.) This is a book that ought to be read by every public policy wonk who values truth in the slightest... and it's one to be enjoyed by almost anyone who has an interest in America's past and future.
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Format: Paperback
This book is interesting...profound...and the implications are disturbing, A must read for anyone with a good brain. Humans have always warred...it changes our society...and we will always fight..It is the fallen nature of man.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a historical review and analysis of how the nation-state developed and was strengthened by, and resulted in, the expansion of war. Porter discusses how changes in economic structures, political structures, and taxation laid the groundwork for the horrific wars of the 20th century, which could only be carried out by centralized nation-states. Excellent insights. Very thought-provoking.
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