Only the Dead

Only the Dead : The Persistence of War in the Modern Age

5 (1 rating by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 2 business days
When will my order arrive?


Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature is, quite simply, one of the most influential social science books of the past decade. In it, Pinker argued that violence in all its forms-but especially war-has been steadily declining throughout the modern era, and that the world is more peaceful now than ever before. The book found a very receptive audience, and it is indeed a powerful work. But is it true?

In Only the Dead, Bear Braumoeller assesses the claim that armed conflict is in decline and finds it wanting. In the course of his assessment, he also develops a powerful explanation for trends in warfare over time. His central finding is that, although there has been a drop in the rate of international conflict following the end of the Cold War, that drop followed nearly two centuries of steady increases in the rate of conflict. Moreover, the rate of civil war onset has increased
following the end of the Cold War, and extrastate wars (wars between states and non-state entities) have shown a recent resurgence. With regard to war intensity and severity, he has found no significant change since the end of the Napoleonic Wars-which represents a sharp rejoinder to Pinker's thesis. Just as
importantly, he contends that the flaws in Pinker's argument flow from a fundamental weakness in this theory, which is really a monocausal story about a decline in the willingness to wage war. In contrast, Braumoeller's findings are in accord with systemic theories of international politics that emphasize Great Power conflict. He therefore traces how Great Power interactions produce world orders, which in combination with Great Power activity alter the calculations made by states as they
contemplate the choice between a negotiated settlement and war. To buttress his argument, he looks at key episodes from each major historical era, all the while emphasizing how the Great Power system induces armed conflict.

Because the decline-in-war thesis has captured the attention of politicians, journalists, and citizens as well as academics, Only the Dead is likely to be quite controversial. But Braumoeller, known for being one of the most numerate political scientists in the discipline, has both a powerful theory and data that doubters cannot dismiss. It therefore has the potential to stand as a landmark work in the fields of international politics and the history of war.
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 325 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 22.86mm | 748.43g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0190849533
  • 9780190849535
  • 86,090

Table of contents

1 Introduction
2 Empirical Reasons for Skepticism
3 Theoretical Reasons for Skepticism
4 A Conventional View of War
5 Measuring War
6 A Few Handy Tools
7 Trends in Warfare, 1815-present
show more

About Bear F. Braumoeller

Bear F. Braumoeller is a political scientist at The Ohio State University who studies Great Power politics, international conflict, complex systems, and statistical methodology. He earned his Bachelor's degree at the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. He has previously been a faculty member at Harvard University and the University of Illinois and has been a Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. His first book,
The Great Powers and the International System, won the Best Book Award from the International Studies Association as well as the J. David Singer Award.
show more

Rating details

1 rating
5 out of 5 stars
5 100% (1)
4 0% (0)
3 0% (0)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X