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ISBN: 9780195309485

Published: 1 Aug 07

Availability: Contact Customer Service

Hardback

AU$89.95

NZ$121.99

Beyond War

Douglas P. Fry


The classic opening scene of 2001, A Space Odyssey shows an ape-man wreaking havoc with humanity's first invention--a bone used as a weapon to kill a rival. It's an image that fits well with popular notions of our species as inherently violent, with the idea that humans are--and always have been--warlike by nature. But as Douglas P. Fry convincingly argues in Beyond War, the facts show that our ancient ancestors were not innately warlike--and neither are we.
Fry points out that, for perhaps ninety-nine percent of our history, for well over a million years, humans lived in nomadic hunter-and-gatherer groups, egalitarian bands where generosity was highly valued and warfare was a rarity. Drawing on archaeology and fascinating fieldwork on hunter-gatherer bands from around the world, Fry debunks the idea that war is ancient and inevitable. For instance, among Aboriginal Australians--who numbered some 750,000 individuals before the arrival of Europeans, all living in hunter-gathering groups--warfare was an extreme anomaly. There was individual violence and aggression, of course, but the Aborigines had sophisticated methods of resolving disputes, controlling individual outbursts, and preventing loss of life. Fry shows that, far from being natural, warfare actually appeared quite recently along with changes in social organization and especially the rise of states. But Fry also points out that even today, when war seems ever present (at least on television), the vast majority of us live peaceful, nonviolent lives. We are not as warlike as it might seem, and if we can learn from our ancestors, we may be able to move beyond war to provide real justice and security for the people of the world.
A profoundly heartening view of human nature, Beyond War offers a hopeful perspective on our species and a positive prognosis for a future without war.

A provocative look at the evolution of war that debunks the "Man the Warrior" myth and offers hope for a more peaceful future

Douglas P. Fry , Docent, Developmental Psychology Program, Abo Akademi University, Finland

Douglas P. Fry teaches in the Faculty of Social and Caring Sciences at Åbo Akademi University in Finland and is an adjunct research scientist in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona. A renowned anthropologist and a leading authority on aggression, conflict, and conflict resolution, he has worked in this field for over twenty-five years and has published many articles and books on this subject.

"This is a passionate book containing a tidy account of systems of war and peace."--New Scientist

"This book offers a refreshing and timely look at the evidence that we have warfare in our genes. Clearly, the assumptions of those who argue this position exceed the facts. Using anthropological data, Fry argues forcefully that our species has not only a strong desire for peace, but also plenty of ways to achieve it."--Frans de Waal, author of Our Inner Ape

"If you believe humanity is doomed to war, read this book. If you want to convince others that it is not, read this book. Fry does two very important things in Beyond War. He shows that humans are not innately warlike and are fully capable of living in peace. And he shows how past scholarship has been biased by an assumption of a "beast within." His magisterial tour of the evidence is clear, sensible, and entertaining."--Brian Ferguson, author of Yanomami Warfare: A Political History

"Few questions are as controversial and consequential as whether war is "natural." In this important book, Fry does a fine job of demystifying the argument, while making a strong case for optimism. Human nature is a slippery thing, a concept often misused, yet crucial to understanding our past, present, and future. Beyond War will help scholar and lay-person alike to grasp hold."--David P. Barash, author of Madame Bovary¹s Ovaries: A Dawinian Look at Literature

"This is a passionate book containing a tidy account of systems of war and peace."--New Scientist

"This book offers a refreshing and timely look at the evidence that we have warfare in our genes. Clearly, the assumptions of those who argue this position exceed the facts. Using anthropological data, Fry argues forcefully that our species has not only a strong desire for peace, but also plenty of ways to achieve it."--Frans de Waal, author of Our Inner Ape

"If you believe humanity is doomed to war, read this book. If you want to convince others that it is not, read this book. Fry does two very important things in Beyond War. He shows that humans are not innately warlike and are fully capable of living in peace. And he shows how past scholarship has been biased by an assumption of a "beast within." His magisterial tour of the evidence is clear, sensible, and entertaining."--Brian Ferguson, author of Yanomami Warfare: A Political History

"Few questions are as controversial and consequential as whether war is "natural." In this important book, Fry does a fine job of demystifying the argument, while making a strong case for optimism. Human nature is a slippery thing, a concept often misused, yet crucial to understanding our past, present, and future. Beyond War will help scholar and lay-person alike to grasp hold."--David P. Barash, author of Madame Bovary¹s Ovaries: A Dawinian Look at Literature

"An important and timely volume, [Beyond War]...is a valuable addition to the perennial debates on warfare."--American Anthropologist