A Short History of War by Jeremy Black

A Short History of War by Jeremy Black is a very short history of warfare. I like how the book started, with the origins of conflict and looks at both conflict between humans and humans and other animals. It was an unexpected way to look at this issue of conflict and a thought-provoking one. What I loved about this book is that it has very short chapters, 40 of them, meaning that one can read in a few pages the highlights of a conflict.

A Short History of War by Jeremy Black

The conflicts presented are from ancient times to the present day and that is really interesting. His book is engaging and he makes the assumption of some prior knowledge on geography and rulers, but not too much. He analyses very briefly the aspects of war in those specific conflicts, from religious to political and cultural ones. In the Cold War, for example, the ideology was more important than anything else.

In previous centuries other things are mentioned, like the development of weaponry, why a side was successful and another one wasn’t. I found particularly interesting the chapters on British maritime prowess and the American war of independence. Also, the Napoleonic wars were fascinating and that was a subject I read about.

The transition to wars between states to the inter-state wars was fascinating and I would love to read more about that. In the face of climate change this trend might continue to grow. Overall this is a great book, well worth reading, very short with bite-size overviews of conflicts, structured properly in their own individual chapters. It was a 5 stars read for me.

A Short History of War by Jeremy Black

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Yale University Press
Year it was published: 2021
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Broad subject
Pages: 272

About the author: Professor Jeremy Black MBE is an English historian and a Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of America and the West at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is the author of over 100 books.
Black graduated from Queens’ College, Cambridge with a starred first, and then undertook postgraduate work at St John’s and Merton Colleges, Oxford. He taught at Durham University for 16 years from 1980 to 1996, firstly as a lecturer and then as a Professor. In 1996 he moved to Exeter University where he took up the post of Professor of History.
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4 thoughts on “A Short History of War by Jeremy Black”

  • I suppose that in reality, many historians would say that to try and encapsulate the loss and suffering of war in such short superficial chapters, would be to show disservice to all the pain and loss inflicted on those who fought, on whichever side of a conflict —– However, I have to say that this is my kind of history reading and is more likely to hold my attention so that I retain the knowledge, rather than have to read hundreds of pages about one particular conflict ———– It is also great for dipping in and out of, so once again I am more likely to be drawn to it —— Have a lovely break and try not to make it all work and no play! 🙂
    Yvonne (@Fiction_Books) recently posted…Going Greenby Nick SpaldingReviewMy Profile

    • I don’t think that historical war books dwell too much on pain and suffering and I think that is the right approach. War is horrifying but learning about what and why conflicts happened is the only way to understand them. Learning rape as a weapon in war is important, for example, and it can be discussed without having to document the horribly suffering each of those people suffered (it’s not only linked to women).

      I am having a lovely break now, a few days in London, enjoying Christmasy stuff.

  • I might have to see if I can find this one for the historians in my family. While religion, politics, and other ideologies factor in, I’ve always believed the majority of conflict (since the beginning of mankind) has been based on the acquisition of resources and power.
    Kelly recently posted…Winter LightsMy Profile

    • Conflicts are so diverse and complex, it’s always a mix, but always fascinating to read about.

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