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The End of War Hardcover – January 17, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"I'm heartened by this thoughtful, unflappable, closely argued book. The End of War gives us new ways to understand and resist the specious arguments of inevitabilists and professional weaponeers."
—Nicholson Baker

"Winsomely and persuasively, John Horgan suggests that the world may be headed toward peace. This book is straightforward, drawing on the best scientific evidence available, examining the writings of the best scholars on both sides of these issues. Horgan believes human destiny is not predetermined. Human choices matter. We are encouraged not because of pious idealistic hopes, but because the best evidence demonstrates that the prospects for peace are eminently realistic."
—Dr. James C. Juhnke

"This is a heartfelt and important book, one that largely succeeds: at least, in making its point. Whether it is comparably successful in its deeper goal—changing peoples’ minds—is another matter, although let’s hope that it is."
—David Barash, The Chronicle of Higher Education

“Dialogue like that Horgan has opened here, in my opinion, is where the best pragmatic solutions are likely to emerge.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Praise for The End of Science

"[In this] intellectually bracing, sweepingly reported, often brilliant and sometimes bullying book, John Horgan makes the powerful case that the best and most exciting scientific discoveries are behind us."
New York Times Book Review, front page review

About the Author

Director of the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey, John Horgan is a prize-winning journalist who has written for Scientific American, the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, Slate, Discover, the London Times, the Times Literary Supplement, New Scientist, and other publications around the world. His previous books include The End of Science, published in 1996.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936365367
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936365364
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David C N Swanson on January 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The best book I've read in a very long time is a new one: "The End of War" by John Horgan. Its conclusions will be vigorously resisted by many and yet, in a certain light, considered perfectly obvious to some others. The central conclusion -- that ending the institution of war is entirely up to us to choose -- was, arguably, reached by (among many others before and since) John Paul Sartre sitting in a café utilizing exactly no research.

Horgan is a writer for "Scientific American," and approaches the question of whether war can be ended as a scientist. It's all about research. He concludes that war can be ended, has in various times and places been ended, and is in the process (an entirely reversible process) of being ended on the earth right now.

The war abolitionists of the 1920s Outlawry movement would have loved this book, would have seen it as a proper extension of the ongoing campaign to rid the world of war. But it is a different book from theirs. It does not preach the immorality of war. That idea, although proved truer than ever by the two world wars, failed to prevent the two world wars. When an idea's time has come and also gone, it becomes necessary to prove to people that the idea wasn't rendered impossible or naïve by "human nature" or grand forces of history or any other specter. Horgan, in exactly the approach required, preaches the scientific observation of the success (albeit incomplete as yet) of preaching the immorality of war.

The evidence, Horgan argues, shows that war is a cultural contagion, a meme that serves its own ends, not ours (except for certain profiteers perhaps). Wars happen because of their cultural acceptance and are avoided by their cultural rejection.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Horgan manages to summarize an immense amount of scholarship on the history of violent conflict into a most readable 190 pages. Besides the vast amount of reading, and previous writing, on the topic he has done, he has also interviewed peace activists, anthropologists and other scientists, and military and political leaders. Their reflections add many facets to Horgan's argument that war is not inevitable. But he does not just reach that particular conclusion and sit back; he also emphasizes that neither is peace inevitable; it takes constant and difficult work and effort. Yet the absolute importance of working for peace is clear; from all his research, he concludes:

"Those of us who want to make the world a better place--more democratic, equitable, healthier, cleaner--should make abolishing the invention of war our priority, because peace can help bring about many of the other changes we seek. If you want less pollution, more money for healthcare and education, an improved legal and political system--work for peace."

Horgan is a college teacher as well as a writer, and his style and message seem pitched to the next generation coming along, urging them kindly but firmly to share his optimism and to work towards the goal of putting an end to war. The benefits are incalculable.

From the 1950s fold song by Ed McCurdy,

Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war
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Format: Hardcover
Having heard Horgan on the Diane Rehm show, I agree with everything he said and everything in the book (I poured blood on draft files w Father Berrigan in '67)

On listening to the author (John) I called in and said that part of the problem is that the media doesn't cover these issues- that there are peace movements in Israel and Palestine with answers that are not covered. The subject is too controversial in a militaristic country like ours.

The End of War will probably not be covered by the NY Times, the Washington Post, nor any major media outlets.

Our peace groups are not covered in this militaristic society- but we know about them- Code Pink, ANSWER, Occupiers, etc.

Established media- tv, radio (except for Democracy Now) and all major newspapers do not have time for such truths as- Bradley Manning who exposed our soldiers killing civilians sits in jail while another soldier- Wuterich- who killed civilians in Iraq gets a few months.

To me, the established media is not fair and balanced and has blood on its hands. The more all the anti war stuff that has come out since WW I (yes it was around before (Rob' Lowell- Conscientious Objectors) but REALLY smothered then)- the better!

David Swanson's War Is a Lie- and S Brian Willson's book, Blood on the Tracks are also good books on the subject- and Swanson has written an review here.

My country has been at war since I was born (1941). We males here - and around the world- are definitely wired for violence- if we weren't already from centuries of sneaking up on animals in the forest.

Having served prison time for a nonviolent protest (of Vietnam) I think about our male programming and the violence/nonviolence crossroads a lot.
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Format: Hardcover
John Horgan's book, The End of War, has given me new language for thinking about the problem. I had been one of those optimists who thought that someday war can and will be terminated. Thanks to this book I am much better prepared to reason why. For me the vital realization gained is that war is an invention. It has been invented many times over, for different functions (a cogent discussion of these different functions is a crucial contribution of this book). Sure, war taps into deep biological proclivities, which is one explanation for how it is easy to continually re-invent and also spread like an infection. In the end, though, war is an invention, a social technology. And that means, thankfully, it can be un-invented, dismantled, and made obsolete with more advanced social inventions, such as better mechanisms for creating and maintaining peace, which, as John Horgan rolls out in his reasoning, not only should become a global, collective goal, but also is achievable.
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