The Shortest History of War

Gwynne Dyer

01 September 2023
260 pages


‘An incisive and well-informed overview of how warfare has evolved’ PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

‘From the first armies to clashes of drones and dirty bombs, this is eye-opening, big-picture stuff’ BBC HISTORY

‘Readable and sharp ... does what it says on the tin’ INDEPENDENT

‘Dyer writes with eloquence and authority’ IRISH EXAMINER

War has changed, but we have not. From our hunter-gatherer ancestors to the rival nuclear powers of today, whenever resources have been contested, we’ve gone to battle. In this brisk and gripping account, acclaimed military historian Gwynne Dyer traces the evolution of martial clashes, tracing warfare from prehistory to the world’s first cities and on to the thousand-year ‘classical age’ of combat, which ended when the firearm changed everything.

Dyer explores the shift from limited to total war, interrupted by Hiroshima’s nuclear impact, until the Cold War and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ended the longest peace among major powers since the World War II. Now as climate change intensifies resource competition, superpowers fill up their arsenals with atomic bombs, drones and futuristic weapons of mass destruction.

All through, Dyer delves into anthropology, psychology and other relevant fields to unmask the drivers of conflict, making The Shortest History of War a book for anyone who wants to understand the role of war in the human story – and how we can prevent it from defining our future.