The Shortest History of War

Gwynne Dyer


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Old Street Publishing
8 February 2022
ISBN: 9781913083236
256 pages

From the publisher

Updated paperback edition with new material on Afghanistan

In this addition to the bestselling ‘shortest history’ series, acclaimed historian and military expert Gwynne Dyer tells the story of war from its prehistoric – perhaps pre-human – origins up to the present age of algorithms and atom bombs.

Dyer chronicles the spread of warfare in the world’s first cities; the seemingly inexorable rise of inequality and tyranny as human societies expand; the millennium-long ‘classical age’ of combat ended by the firearm and the carnage of the Thirty Years’ War; the brief ensuing interlude of ‘limited war’ before the popular revolutions of the 18th century ushered in an era of total war – itself abruptly halted by Hiroshima.

The final chapters deal with the precarious equilibrium of the past 75 years – the longest period of peace between major powers in modern history – and with the looming threats of nuclear proliferation, superpower rivalry and climate change.