The timely message that "peace does not preserve itself" opens this study of the origins of mankind's greatest and most destructive wars. The author, a distinguished American historian, considers four mammoth wars, and one near-disaster, the Cuban missile crisis. He reveals the common threads which connect the ancient confrontations between Athens and Sparta, and between Rome and Carthage, with the two calamitous world wars of our own century - against the German military machines of Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolf Hitler. What were the real failures which led to world war in 1914? In the years leading up to World War II, were the appeasers of the 1930s solely to blame for Hitler's rise, or were the most important errors made in the peaceful 1920s. In the Cuban missile crisis, did President Kennedy really make Khruschev blink? Donald Kagan's answers to these questions challenge most traditional interpretations.
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Donald Kagan is Sterling Professor of Classics and History at Yale University. A former dean of Yale College, he received his Ph.D. in 1958 from The Ohio State University. His publications include On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace, The Peloponnesian War, and Thucydides: The Reinvention of History. In 2002 he was the recipient of the National Humanities Medal and in 2005 was named the National Endowment for the Humanities Jefferson Lecturer.From Booklist:
Whenever a prestigious professor distills a lifetime of erudition into a single volume, it is a significant intellectual event. An expert on Greco-Roman political history at Yale, whose eminent four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War is unmatched but by that of Thucydides himself, Kagan here refines his thoughts on hostility between world powers in five case studies: the Athens-Sparta war, the Second Punic War, World Wars I and II, and the world war that wasn't--the Cuban missile crisis. As causal factors, Kagan emphasizes a "Thucydidean triad" of honor, fear, and interest. The triad grows out of the inherently anarchical character of international systems, which are fundamentally shifting patterns of power. The problem is to ameliorate the fears of security that changing patterns generate and satisfy a state's need for the prestige power confers. Rationality does not rule, as Kagan analyzes how a revolt in Epidamnus in 431 B.C., a Carthaginian siege of Saguntum in 218 B.C., an assassination in 1914, a farrago of mistakes in the 1920s and '30s, or a few nuclear-tipped missiles in 1962--each one objectively not worth a war--degenerated into a fearsome stare down over relative power. An incisive series of stimulating studies that bears the closest attention from the foreign policy community and from libraries that attracted patrons with John Keegan's A History of Warfare or Kissinger's Diplomacy. Gilbert Taylor
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Book Description Trafalgar Square, 1995. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 91791790