On Wars

Michael Mann


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Yale University Press
10 October 2023
ISBN: 9780300266818
616 pages

From the publisher

A history of wars through the ages and across the world, and the irrational calculations that so often lie behind them

Benjamin Franklin once said, "There never was a good war or a bad peace." But what determines whether war or peace is chosen? Award-winning sociologist Michael Mann concludes that it is a handful of political leaders-people with emotions and ideologies, and constrained by inherited culture and institutions-who undertake such decisions, usually irrationally choosing war and seldom achieving their desired results.

Mann examines the history of war through the ages and across the globe-from ancient Rome to Ukraine, from imperial China to the Middle East, from Japan and Europe to Latin and North America. He explores the reasons groups go to war, the different forms of wars, how warfare has changed and how it has stayed the same, and the surprising ways in which seemingly powerful countries lose wars. In masterfully combining ideological, economic, political, and military analysis, Mann offers new insight into the many consequences of choosing war.