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Donald Kagan


Subtitle: On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace, Doubleday, N.Y., 1995, 606 pgs., index, bibliography, notes


Reviewer Comments:
In this very interesting and timely today study Dr. Kagan has selected 5 great wars for analysis. They are all remarkable. They indicate that he means in his title origins of war as a specific event itself, not the origins of warfare in ancient or prehistoric time, Note that the final chapter is about a critical incident in the 'Cold War' that actually did not escalate into a bloody conflict. He is not describing these wars in total but the origin of each war in a comparative way.

The author's final words in his Conclusions is the advice and warning he gives as a result of the lessons desribed in the preceeding 5 case histories.They should be read and memorized.


1 - The Peloponnesian War 43- - 404 B.C.


2 - The First World War 1914 - 1918


3 - Hannibal's War: The Second Punic War 281 - 202 B.C.


4 - The Second World War 1939 - 1845


5 - The Cuban Missile Crisis


Conclusions; "The persistant and repeated error through theages hasbeen the failure to understand that the preservation of peace requires active effort, plannning, and expenditure of resources, an sacrific, just as war does."


Some references


Donald Kagan - 4 volumes on the Peloponnesian War - The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War - The Archidamian War - The Peace of Nicias and Sicilian Expedition and The Fall of the Athenian Expedition


Victor David Hanson - The Wars of the Ancient Greeks


Philip de Souza, Waldemar Heckel & Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones - The Greeks at War


Ralph D. Sawyer - Ancient Chinese warfare




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