The Antique Drums of War
Military History - International History
6 x 9, 232 pp.
4 b&w photos., 1 line drawing.
Pub Date: 05/01/1994
Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series
  cloth
Price:        $39.50 x

978-0-89096-591-7
  paper
Price:        $18.95 x

978-0-89096-611-2

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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The Antique Drums of War

By James H. McRandle

Why is war, with all its terror and destruction, so seemingly attractive to humankind? The Antique Drums of War provides a deeply thoughtful and provocative consideration of the sources of war: in archaic instincts, social ritual, animal behavior and evolutionary logic, mythmaking, and psychology. It traces the continuity of such aspects of war as unit size, tactics, and the function of uniforms from primitive beginnings through recent wars. The actual experiences of men in battle, drawn from the personal reminiscences of soldiers from various periods of history, give a sense of immediacy to the narrative.

James H. McRandle portrays modern war, despite its dispassionate, computerized brutality, as a kind of ritual that resembles in many of its particulars the ritual of war as practiced since the earliest ages of humanity. But ritual is only one of the characteristics of the institution of war. Mythmaking, psychological techniques, social forces, instinctive responses to fear, and aggressiveness are all martialed and manipulated through ritual to serve war’s purposes.

Some of Mcrandle’s conclusions will be controversial, particularly his argument that warfare served to promote gene flow between separated and isolated groups of Homo erectus and early Homo Sapiens. Throughout, his novel approaches and use of eclectic intellectual perspectives will stimulate those concerned about the possible causes of war and war’s possible remedy.

James H. McRandle, who served as an infantry rifleman in World War II, holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Minnesota. He has taught European and recent German history at Purdue University and UCLA. His previous publications on National Socialism and German military history led him to the study of the two world wars and the memoirs of veterans, and later to work with prominent ecologists and ethologists on issues of war. He lives now in Bellingham, Washington.

What Readers Are Saying:

“ . . . a fascinating book. Well written, it is a blend of history, anthropology, ethology, sociology, archaeology, paleontology, psychology, mythology, philosophy, poetry and realism. McRandle’s purpose is to show that war is one of mankind’s four basic institutions developed through history—food sharing, marriage, religion, and war. He proceeds from the question of why men fight to a more or less systematic examination of war throughout history. Concentrating on its perenniality, he examines war as a facet of various cultures, looks at how it evolved, how it was and is organized, and finds it a continuing attraction for humankind.”--Frank E. Vandiver

“ . . . a fascinating book. Well written, it is a blend of history, anthropology, ethology, sociology, archaeology, paleontology, psychology, mythology, philosophy, poetry and realism. McRandle’s purpose is to show that war is one of mankind’s four basic institutions developed through history—food sharing, marriage, religion, and war. He proceeds from the question of why men fight to a more or less systematic examination of war throughout history. Concentrating on its perenniality, he examines war as a facet of various cultures, looks at how it evolved, how it was and is organized, and finds it a continuing attraction for humankind.” --Frank E. Vandiver

“In a cogent and potentially controversial analysis of war, McRandle attempts to discover its causes and find a possible remedy. . . . This analysis is provocative and, at times, disturbing.” --Proceedings

“ . . . bound to raise the hackles of many who argue that war is unnatural and can be avoided.” --Bellingham (WA) Herald

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