- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A.; Reprint edition (18 Dec. 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195119126
- ISBN-13: 978-0195119121
- Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 1.5 x 13.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage Paperback – 18 Dec 1997
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The evidence that Mr. Keeley marshals is vivid, varied, and often complex. (The New York Times Book Review)
...Keeley is an engaging writer who provides excellent summaries on many topics. (American Anthropologist)
A sobering, grim, and important book. (Foreign Affairs)
About the Author
Lawrence H. Keeley is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has contributed articles to Scientific American and Nature, and has appeared in documentaries that have run on P.B.S., The Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois with his wife and son.
Top Customer Reviews
Other interesting insights include the idea that societies that trade and intermarry with one another are more, not less, likely to go to war with each other, and that the bellicosity of a society is not related to its population density. Fear not, as many of the reasons why primitives, and less primitives, go to war are elucidated in this engaging and well-written book.
Keeley suffers fools badly, and he has some quite acidic comments to make about those with whom he disagrees. Whether the bile is amusing or not, whether it added to or subtracted from my appreciation of this book, I am not certain. That aside, I can recommend this book for those interested in the field of human conflict.
Keeley further strengthens his case through case studies of ethnographers who studied people who had only recently met with the outside world. The tales these people tell of their past is not one of peace. In many, or in fact most, cases, there was an almost constant state of low level warfare which was extremely deadly by modern standards. Tribal bands cannot afford the luxury of such institutions as the Geneva Convention. They are forced to wage total, no holds bared war. Males are never taken prisoner (they can't build POW camps) and are therefore always dispatched if possible. Women and children are frequently killed, with the alternative being slavery.
The news is not all bad however and the author also debunks the condescending PC narrative of primitive people being helpless and passive victims of Western aggression.Read more ›
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