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War & Anti-War: Making Sense of Today's Global Chaos [Paperback]

Alvin Toffler , Heidi Toffler
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

18 Aug 1994
This book examines the subject that has haunted mankind since its origins - war. Beginning with an analysis of warfare in the past, it offers insights into today's conflicts - and a portrait of the future face of battle. Its premise is that the forms of war follow forms of economic activity. In pre-industrial agrarian societies, men fought hand-to-hand. With the age of mass production came mass destruction - the savage bombing sorties of World War II and Vietnam, as well as the omnipresent threat of nuclear annihilation. The "smart bombs" of the Gulf conflict, it warns, are precursors of what war could become as the information age unfolds: a battlefield dominated by "intelligent" weapons systems, from tiny, antlike robots that crawl into an adversary's headquarters to "autonomous arms" that, once programmed, decide when, and towards whom, they fire. The authors show how changes in the media business and the global economy are blurring the distinction between news and psychological warfare, and they call for bloodless battle (anti-war) as a new approach to world peace. Other work by the authors includes "Future Shock", "Third Wave" and "Powershift".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; New edition edition (18 Aug 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751509388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751509380
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,379,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking 20 Nov 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Published in 1993, the authors published this look into the future of warfare. Building on the paradigm introduced in their earlier books (Future Shock, The Third Wave, and Powershift), the authors argue that as the new "Third Wave" transforms society, so will it transform warfare. Throughout, the authors attempt to show how war has been transformed, and how it will continue to transform in the decades ahead.
I picked up this book in reaction to the recent attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I was hoping that it would give me a better insight into modern military, and what modern warfare would be like. I think that the authors did a great job of showing just how different any present and future wars are likely to be.
My one complaint is that the authors focused almost exclusively on the militaries of the advanced societies. If you want to see how the "new" terrorists are also "Third Wave" organizations, I highly recommend Countering the New Terrorism, by Ian O. Lesser, et al.
That said, this is a fascinating book, with a thought-provoking message. I highly recommend you read it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In Retrospect 13 May 2002
By Ron Dwyer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have a certain measure of skepticism concerning the genre that has been called "futurist" or "future studies" because, as is well known, many of the predictions of futurists have been dead wrong.
But some futurists are better than others; and it is emminetly rational to try to understand where we are headed and plan for it.
The sub-title of this book is : Survival At The Dawn of the 21st Century. Considering that the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 has launched, in a certain sense, the 21st Century, it seems to be an appropriate time to evalute a book by a prominent futurist, written in the early 90s, on war and peace in the 21st Century.
This book is rooted in the Tofflerian concepts of the "First Wave," "Second Wave," and the "Third Wave." The First Wave Civilzation is agrarian. The Second Wave Civilization is industrial; the Third Wave civilization in informational. War and peace should be understood in the context of the Third Wave.
Predictions: Nation-states will no longer have the sole monopoly on force. New, sophisticated techonolgy will be used. The threat of bio-terrorism. Information will be very important, both in war, and in preventing war. The use of psychological methods in war. Countries should, and will, share knowledge and expertise.
Reality: In Afghanistan, the United States attacked Taliban and Al-Qaida bases (Al-Qaida, an international terrorist organization). Satellites and precision bombing were used. There is a fear of a biological counter attack in the United States. There is now an effort to strenghthen our security and intelligence agencies in order to prevent further attack. In the war in Afghanistan, not only bombs were dropped, but also food for the civilians and propaganda pamphelts. In the war on terrorism, the US is assisting the former Soviet Republic of Georgia with weapons and advice.
There are some things that turned out differently. For example, some Second and even First Wave methods of war were used. The calvary, 19th century war institution, used in the 21st Century! Another point is the increasing role of civilians in war. True, civilians have not always been passive. In World War II, a national magazine encouraged its readers to come up with ideas on how to win World War II. But it seems that civilians will have an increasing more important role in the waging of war and the preservation of peace. Heroic civilians in one of the hi-jacked planes fought back and may have well saved Congress or the the White House from being attacked. People increased their security , after the attack, by using the newer communication technologies like cell phones and the Internet.
As to the second half of the book's title "Anti-War", the predictions are not as adequate--though we should not be too hard on Toffler on this point--the prevention of war is not an easy thing. One of Toffler's suggestions is basically of an international organization like the UN having teeth, that is, armed force. But the only way that will happen is if some world government would have a armed force that is greater than the force of all the major powers combined. Basically what best insures peace is the toppling of tyrants.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tofflers Help Us To Think More Clearly About War and Peace 9 Oct 2000
By David Thomson - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One does not need to adhere to the theological claims of Judeo-Christianity to concede that wars, and the rumors of wars, will likely persist until the end of time. The at least metaphorical reality of Original Sin is alive and well on planet earth. Alvin and Heidi Toffler have much to offer. They, however, seem uncomfortable discussing the innate tendency of human beings to commit evil acts. An earlier reviewer referred to the subtle quasi Marxism materialism that seems to pervade their writings. I think this criticism of the Tofflers is fair. I strongly believe, for instance, that the wars of the 21st Century will rarely be about hunger and dire poverty. Unfortunately, technological advancements and the increasing affluence of many parts of the world are not solely sufficient in addressing the existential angst of the human condition. The male gender in particular appears to gravitate towards life threatening situations. The themes of purification through violence resonate deep within the breasts of men. There is something to be said concerning the Chinese curse: "May you live in exciting times." I interpret the "End of History" thesis as the contention that we could be entering into a more harmonious and safer era. Will this milieu, though, be found too bland and boring for the male of our species? The reader may find of further interest my Amazon community review of the movie "Fight Club" wherein I delve a bit further into this disquieting topic.
"War and Anti-War" was originally written in 1993. The Tofflers book has endured the test of time. The Tofflers correctly predicted the ability of today's Third Wave satellite technology to monitor questionable activities throughout the world. Privacy issues will be debated about the Big Brother implications of this quickly evolving technology. Nevertheless, the ease and relative low cost of spy satellites might make it virtually impossible for either ideological terrorists or criminals to develop and mange groups of like-minded individuals. The Internet has also evolved to the point where many of us interact with other people throughout the world as just another ho hum, everyday event. It's hard to imagine people who communicate on such a regular basis ever going to war against each other. Religious zealots, racists, and nationalist extremists, on the other hand, feel increasingly marginalized and overwhelmed by our modern age. Any group of males perceiving themselves as psychological, if not spiritually impotent, are always a bona fide threat. Amazon community reviewer, Robert D. Steele, is also cited by the Tofflers for taking to task our intelligence agencies exaggerated desire for secrecy. Steele aptly argues that "the hidden costs of secrecy are so immense they often outweigh the benefits by a large margin." This book is of great value for getting one to think more deeply about how to bring about world peace. The Tofflers don't claim to have all the answers. That is why they encourage the reader to join the dialogue. "War and Anti-War" is a good start for those ready to take a plunge to more profoundly understanding these literal issues of life and death.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3rd best of his works, absolutely essential 22 Aug 2000
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Alvin & Heidi Toffler have always written and spoken as a team, but this is the first book where Heidi has been included. Future Shock and PowerShift remain their two most important works, this one comes in third. They start off with a compelling reason for buying the book, a quote from Trotsky: "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." Today, right now, there are 26 conflicts going on around the world killing more than 1000 people a year; 78 "low intensity" conflicts killing more than 100 but less than 1000 people a year; and 178 violent political conflicts causing fewer than 100 deaths per year--source is the PIOOM project in The Netherlands. There are also 16 genocidal campaigns ongoing as we speak, and another 18 emerging--from Rwanda and Burundi to Sri Lanka to East Timor to obscure sections of China and Russia. This is a serious book by serious researchers who had the good fortune to be prescient and to become world-renowned futurists. The book is strongest on Third Wave wars and niche wars, does a very creditable job of covering a wide range of unconventional forms of conflict, and ends, somewhat disappointingly, with a useful but less than gripping discussion of "peace forms". Fun to read, including the chapter on "The Future of the Spy."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill" 31 Mar 2005
By J. Guild - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Over the years I have read several of Toffler's excellent books.He has a marvelous talent to put logical thinking to work and reveal what is really happening right before our eyes;and most of all,explain it.It seems that it is a case of that old adage "can't see the woods for the trees."Any reader of Toffler is well aware of the First,Second and Third waves;and what he does in this book is to show how war is affected by the Third wave principles of change. As one reads this book,the reader should keep in mind that it was published in 1993- that's 13 years ago,and much of the thoughts and research probably took place sometime before that.It is a credit to Toffler's skill to read the book now and to see how dead on the mark he is.
The big thing that comes out in this book is that the whole world has not gone through these three waves;in fact some countries have barely entered into the first wave.All countries must try to get along regardless which wave they are in.Also some countries are operating in the first wave in some things,others in the second wave and even in the third wave in others.This is summed up in what Toffler describes as "A World Trisected."
When war is involved ,it is a matter of life and death,and if one does not adapt they will end up on the scrapheap of history.
This book opens ones eyes to so many things that are going on today.It is little wonder that the United Nations,which was formed during the second wave and continues to operate that way;that it has essentially been useless in dealing with terrorism around the world.One should also keep in mind that our governments and political systems along with our legal,criminal and justice systems were also developed for the second wave and continue to dwell there.
"You may not be interested in war,but war is interested in you."
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Third Wave 16 May 2000
By Prauge Traveler - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Toffler's have written a very engaging book about the coming age of war in what they call the 'third wave'- or a post industrial society. Information, according to the Tofflers, will become the vital component of future conflicts in the way that territory and resources were in the second wave. The details and the theory that they construct are very interesting. The causes of this are a new form of wealth creation that is also information intensive (read Silicon valley and the computer industry/cell phones/ or services in general). I recommend reading this book before, with or after Robert Kaplan's vision of the future in "The Coming Anarchy". One aspect of the book that is rather surprising is that they managed to write an entire book on this subject without mentioning Microsoft or the Internet! Then I checked the publication date (1993), and was amazed by the fact that only 7 years ago these entities might not have merited such consideration. This alone helps confirm the Toffler's theories on an quickly changing world, and one in which information is becoming the hot commodity.
The waves are also amazingly close to an anthropolgical method of classification- domestic scale society (tribes bands and chiefdoms), political scale society (nation states) and commerical scale society (the emerging global system). I wonder how much interchange of ideas has gone on over the years between the Tofflers and the author of my text book! Very interesting.
I worry that their division of the planet into first, second and third wave societies may be a way of anesthetizing the fact that wealth and power are becoming more and more polarized. But this is the reality of our time, and whether or not it is pleasing, books such as this are attempting to make sense out of the present and the future. I will most likely consult this book again in the future when writing papers, or talking with friends about the future of conflict for some time to come.
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