Why Wars Happen
War: An Enquiry
Arun Viswanathan by A.C. Grayling Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2018, 268 pp., $26.00
April 2018, volume 42, No 4

In 2006, AC Grayling, a well known and respected British philosopher stirred up a lot of discussion with his book Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in World War Two a Necessity or a Crime? The book delved into the aerial bombing of German cities by the British and the Americans. Grayling termed the bombing as a crime against humanity as he saw it as causing disproportionate harm to civilians, being militarily ineffective in defeating the Axis Powers. Whether one agrees with his conclusion or not is a matter of a separate debate, nevertheless, it is very clear that Grayling has no issues with stating his convictions without much regard for any controversy it might create.

AC Grayling’s latest book,War: An Enquiry, that is under review provides an interesting analysis of the history, causes and the morality of war. The underlying question that the book seeks to answer is why wars happen. A very well written and argued book, the author provides an interesting and concise summary of wars from 2500 BC to modern times. The author also focuses on the impact of technology on War and seeks to highlight how technology has led to war becoming more and more lethal. The author uses the examples such as the use of chariot and composite bow in tandem which he argues brought about ‘changes in the organisation or militaries and society’ (p. 23). This was probably the earliest example of how technology became a potent fighting tool which extended the reach of armies.

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