Tuesday 6 December 2016

We do a huge disservice to the dead of World War I to say they died in vain

Published 08/08/2014 | 02:30

The Commemoration Ceremony at the Monument Interallies at Cointe, Liege. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Copyright Fennell Photography 2014.
The Commemoration Ceremony at the Monument Interallies at Cointe, Liege. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Copyright Fennell Photography 2014.

‘War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, listen to me. War, it ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker.’ So go the opening lyrics of ‘War’ by Edwin Starr released as a protest song during the Vietnam War.

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This is exactly the question a new book named after the song tries to answer. The author, Ian Morris says war is sometimes good for something.

He says that in Stone Age societies the percentage of people who died violently was between ten and twenty percent. At the height of the Roman Empire the death rate by violence had dropped to about five percent. Rome achieved this through conquest.

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