• War

  • History, Causes, Solutions
  • By: Michael Brant Shermer
  • Length: 25 hrs and 44 mins
  • Lecture
  • Release date: 10-08-09
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Michael Shermer
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.0 (12 ratings)


In his college war course, Dr. Shermer mixes straight narrative history with science, philosophy, and theory as to the causes of and solutions to war. The course begins with an overview of war and terms and definitions as they will be used throughout the course. The detailed history covers the rise of the nation-state, the ancién regime of France and the French Revolution, the American Civil War and its economic and political consequences, World War I and the Russian Revolution, Mussolini and the fascists and Hitler and the Nazis, World War II: European & Pacific theaters, the building and dropping of the atomic bomb, and the holocaust of the Jews and American Indians. Dr. Shermer then explores the proximate and ultimate causes of all wars, employing psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary theory to explore political and economic solutions to the prevention of war.
©2009 Michael Shermer; (P)2009 Michael Shermer
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 26-08-13

I wanted more!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would to anyone interested in history, Michael Brant Shermer is a really interesting professor, he knows his stuff and puts across interesting arguments

What was one of the most memorable moments of War?

the world war two and american civil war parts was the best, I feel he went into slavery too much

Which character – as performed by the narrator – was your favourite?

not that type of book please produce better questions

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

once again missing the point

Any additional comments?

Yes i would say that the worst thing about this is theres times when he gets figures wrong or estimates them but 9/10 he is correct and his arguments are sound, I really there was more of this course on here

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3 out of 5 stars
By jacob on 08-07-12


these lectures were very informative and concise on the wars and uprising/revolutions from 1700+ and a lot of interesting points were raised. however the lectures didn't end with any sort of summary, it ended with inaudible questions and discussion from the class and no clear answers from dr shermer, a definite anti climax.

the main points and messages are repeated throughout the lectures so there's no shortage or meaning it's just that nothing feels outlined and i can't see any definitive rules to be taken away other than "wars are waged to raise taxes not taxes are raised to wage wars".

i do feel a lot smarter after absorbing these but i'm glad i didn't pay £50 for them and got them with a credit

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By joel on 28-05-10

It's not an audio book

This program is a recording of a lecture series so you should be aware of this before you make the purchase. Don't expect it to flow like a book.

My main concern before deciding to purchase this program was whether he might have made some errors or misquotes since he does not have the benefit of an editor to review the written transcript. But after listening I got the impression that the professor gave an accurate picture of the subject. He was able to make it clear when he was unsure of a specific detail or unsure of the exact wording of a quote. I came away with a better understanding of the subject.

I enjoyed listening to the real-time lecture. In addition to the written material I got to hear and assess the personality of the speaker while delivering his own material. I heard how he responded to the occasional comment or question from his students. This livened up the recording.

I also heard what he thought was funny or ironic. Several times throughout the program the professor would break into a short laugh at something that was not exactly funny. It took me a few times to get used to this as being one of his quirks. For example when he was discussing how the 'kill rate' of the atomic bomb was 54% he said, 'So, 54% was good news if you are a weapons maker [short laugh] bad news if you're on the other end [another laugh].' This comes up often enough that I thought it would be worth mentioning - not to discourage a would be listener but rather to give a heads up as to what can be expected.

Also, there were a couple of classes towards the end of the program where the recording was a bit fuzzy. I was still able to understand it well enough but I can imagine someone getting upset at the inconsistencies of the sound quality.

It's not like an audio book. But hearing how much the lecturer is into the subject he is teaching it made it a worthwhile listen for me.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Eugene on 23-08-18

A Small amount of knowledge is a dangerous thing

I have listened to quite a number of Great Courses offerings. Some are good, a few are great, a few are mediocre. This wouldn't even meet the last category. Shermer had his lectures taped, not very professionally. His lectures are ill-prepared, and not very well developed. He frequently mispronounces names which no historian should do. He repeats long discredited theories, i.e., Roosevelt knew that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor and did nothing to prevent it or prepare for the attack. His descriptions of historic figures offer nothng new. and demonstrate only a very limited knowledge of them. My overwhelming sense in listening to his lectures is that he is about a chapter ahead of his students.
I have read extensively into the American Civil War and the First and Second World Wars. I am no expert, but my knowledge is far superior to what Mr Shermer demonstrates in discussing these conflicts. After 20 hours of listening I have not heard anything I was not fully aware of, and a lot I know to be bogus.
If you are unfamiliar with these wars and want a brief exposure to them, this might be a reasonable introduction. However, for anyone with anythng more than a cursory knowledge this is a large waste of your money and your time. With less than 5 hours left I am yet to learn his view of the causes and solutions. I can't wait. (That was pure sarcasm. Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
Addendum: After a less than historic description of the holocaust in Europe, the Shermer moves on to the post Civil War west where he attempts to equate the Indian wars to the holocaust. It will appear that his entire knowledge of this period is based on Dee Brown's book, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He makes a number of outrageously ill-informed statements, some not even backed by Brown's somewhat exaggerated text. It is obvious that he has read none of the available literature on Custer and has almost no knowledge of persons and events other than that supplied by Brown's book, and that not particularly well understood.
He does not have even the most cursory understanding of the times and the events. Historic figures have to be judged in the times and places in which they existed, not by modern standards. They should be judged and understood within the context that they lived. That he lacks an understanding of even this most basic tenet of the historian's wheelhouse makes this entire work one of absurd fantasy. That this man is actually teaching a "college" level couse demonstrates the complete lack scholarship that has overtaken our modern universities.

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