The Antique Drums of War

978-0-89096-611-2 Paperback
6 x 9 x 0 in
232 pp. 4 b&w photos., 1 line drawing.
Pub Date: 05/01/1994


  • Paperback $18.95 x
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.

Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series

Published by Texas A&M University Press