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For five centuries, the State has evolved according to epoch-making cycles of war and peace. But now our world has changed irrevocably. What faces us in this era of fear and uncertainty? How do we protect ourselves against war machines that can penetrate the defenses of any state? Visionary and prophetic, The Shield of Achilles looks back at history, at the "Long War" of 1914-1990, and at the future: the death of the nation-state and the birth of a new kind of conflict without precedent.
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The scope of Philip Bobbitt's The Shield of Achilles is breathtaking: the interplay, over the last six centuries, among war, jurisprudence, and the reshaping of countries ("states," in Bobbitt's vocabulary). Bobbitt posits that certain wars should be deemed epochal--that is, seen as composed of many "smaller" wars. For example, according to Bobbitt the epochal war of the 20th century began in 1914 and ended with the collapse of communism in 1990. These military affairs--and their subsequent "ultimate" peace agreements--have caused, each in their own way, revolutionary reconstructions of the idea and actuality of statehood and, following, of relationships between these various new entities. Of these reconstructions (including the princely state, the kingly state, and the nation-state), Bobbitt is most interested in the current incarnation, which he calls the market-state: one whose borders are scuffed and hazy at best (certainly compared to earlier territorial markers) and whose strengths, weaknesses, citizens, and enemies roam across cyberspace rather than plains and valleys. The Shield of Achilles is massive, erudite, and demanding--at once highly abstract and extremely detailed. There is about it an air of detached erudition, one noticeably free of the easy "decline and fall" hysteria too often present in contemporary historical analyses.--H O'BillovichReview:
"Magisterial in its scope and ambition. . . . Bobbitt's evolutionary map of warfare's impact onteh state foreshadows the kinds of events still unfolding." --The New York Times
"I take my hat off to the author for the boldness of his enterprise, for his scholarship, and for his capacity to get the reader to think along new lines. The Shield of Achilles may well become a classic." --Paul Kennedy, The New York Review of Books
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