The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History

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9780713996166: The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History
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This ambitious book sets out to reinterpret the history of the twentieth century as a long war in which conditions of outright military confrontation or of frantic 'cold' competition lasted from the outbreak of the first world war until the collapseof the Soviet Union. He goes on to argue that this long experience of war has brought about a fundamental change in the constitutional basis of sates, and explores this idea through the notion of the 'market state'. By clarifying the relationship between constitutional settlements and military power, and by drawing on his firsthand experience in the heart of superpower planning, Bobbitt reveals a startling new way of understanding the past - and an awesome glimpse of the future.

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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'Billovich

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His insights are thought-provoking, erudite and, most importantly, readable. -- Good Book Guide, 1 September, 2002

an audacious, massively informed analysis of the nature of the modern state and of modern war -- The Literary Review, July 2002

this is a book of extraordinary ambition -- The Guardian, 8 June, 2002

this might be the most important non-fiction book of the last 50 years -- Scotland on Sunday, 2 June, 2002

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9780385721387: The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History

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ISBN 10: 0385721382 ISBN 13: 9780385721387
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