So elemental is the human need to endow the shedding of blood with some great and even sublime significance that it renders the intellect almost entirely helpless.

The Transformation of War, p166
Martin Van Creveled: Israeli military historian and theorist.

We are told that the world is safer than ever before.  This can be hard to believe with the flood of news on our screens and in our airwaves,  filled with the horrors of war. It seems so abstract, such a senseless action; the huge scale of violence and death, the depths of deprivation and cruelty, the irreparable harm to the human spirit for those who have born witness to it – for what? When wars are over we are left to look on battlefields, war memorials, mass graves, with baffled and sorrow filled eyes. We pray it will never happen again. Inevitably, it does.

What drives us to it?

There seems to be a sense of foreboding in the air as populist governments and far right influence gains momentum across the world and tensions rise.   From 1998 – 2014  military expenditure was steadily on the rise reaching $ 1,756 billion1, and will continue to increase.  If we could gain some basic awareness or understanding of the evolutionary behavior that leads us to such shocking heights of violence, perhaps we can continue our path towards a safer and saner world. Or at the very least, make sense of it all.

I am going to begin a journey to explore the nature of war using three books:
Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War by Barbara Ehrenreich
The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

This particular blog series will start by following my journey through Barbara Ehrenchreich’s Blood Rites.



1. Annual Report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute