The old, the frail, and the exhausted are one thing. But what of a world when every human is a wartime warrior, each weighed down by combat and potential injury? In the outbreak of war, our societies, each afflicted in some way by conflict, cast aside routine as the only way to make any progress toward peace. It is an ominous time, not just for ourselves, but for the rest of humanity, who looks to the world with anxiety.
In her new book, War: How Conflict Shaped Us, Margaret MacMillan surveys history, art, literature, and film to create a veritable ocean of possible answers. As a result, she produces a book full of real insight, and one that makes some special connections with its audience. I thought of her as I laid out the details of her research, her fact-based arguments, and the observations of powerful images. As a reader who must confront danger firsthand, or as one who lives in a culture marked by conflict, this book is timely, powerful, and beautiful.