• The latest work by a world renowned expertBalanced, but sure to be controversial, view
In theory war is a means to an end, a rational, if very brutal, activity intended to serve the interests of one group of people by killing, wounding, or otherwise incapacitating those who oppose it. In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. Facts beyond number prove that war exercises a powerful fascination in its own right. Out of this fascination grew an entire culture that surrounds it as water surrounds a fish.
The Culture of War ranges from the often exuberant shapes and decoration of armor to today's"tiger suits"; from war games played by the ancient Egyptians on specially-made boards all the way to the vast variety of present-day war games, exercises, and maneuvers; and from Yahweh's commandments in the Pentateuch to the numbered paragraphs of today's international law. It includes the values and traditions of warriors as manifested in their deportment, customs, literature, parades, reviews, and other assorted ceremonies, as well as the endlessly varied ways in which wars have been declared, brought to a formal end, and commemorated.
This volume, the first of its kind in any language, provides a comprehensive account of the subject. It takes aim both at leftists who denounce the culture of war as"militarist" and at "hard headed" strategists who see it as useless; arguing that the culture of war, far from being passé, is as alive today as it has ever been. Conversely, a society which, for one reason or another, loses touch with this culture will be helpless in front of one that has retained it and relishes in it.
Martin van Creveld, professor of history at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, is one of the world's best-known
experts on military history and strategy.