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Blood Rites, By Barbara Ehrenreich

From prey to predator – why we wage war

Much writing about war makes the obvious points that it is bad, sad, kills people, etc.

Barbara Ehrenreich goes beyond such truisms to propose a radical new theory of why humans (not exclusively men) are so keen to wage war: it arouses a kind of religious ecstasy, in non-combatants as well as soldiers; it has its rituals, its hymns, its myths, its sacred sites, its cult of sacrifice. But why do we "sacralise" war?

Ehrenreich's answer delves back into prehistory: once a prey species, we learned to defend ourselves by banding together and fighting off predators. This common experience has shaped all human societies since. Part anthropology, part sociology, part history, this is an original, eye-opening and highly persuasive account.