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BIPR | War: How Conflict Shaped Us
War: How Conflict Shaped Us

April 15, 2021 - 18:30

Online Event

Margaret MacMillan, University of Oxford; University of Toronto

Event Recap


War: How Conflict Shaped Us
History of the Present Series and Patrick McCarthy Memorial Series on Intellectuals and Politics

hosted by Professor Mark Gilbert

Margaret MacMillan
University of Oxford; University of Toronto

From the bestselling author of Paris 1919 comes a provocative view of war as an essential component of humanity and our history. Is peace an aberration?

The instinct to fight may be innate in human nature, but war — organized violence — comes with organized society. War has shaped humanity's history, its social and political institutions, its values and ideas. Our very language, our public spaces, our private memories, and some of our greatest cultural treasures reflect the glory and the misery of war. War is an uncomfortable and challenging subject not least because it brings out both the vilest and the noblest aspects of humanity.

MacMillan looks at the ways in which war has influenced human society and how, in turn, changes in political organization, technology, or ideologies have affected how and why we fight. War: How Conflict Shaped Us explores such much-debated and controversial questions as: When did war first start? Does human nature doom us to fight one another? Why has war been described as the most organized of all human activities? Why are warriors almost always men? Is war ever within our control?

Drawing on lessons from wars throughout the past, from classical history to the present day, MacMillan reveals the many faces of war — the way it has determined our past, our future, our views of the world, and our very conception of ourselves.

MARGARET MACMILLAN

Margaret MacMillan is a Professor of History at the University of Toronto, emeritus Professor of International History and the former Warden of St. Antony's College at the University of Oxford.

Her books include Women of the Raj (1988, 2007); Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World (2001) (Peacemakers in the UK) for which she was the first woman to win the Samuel Johnson Prize; Nixon in China: Six Days that Changed the World (Seize the Hour: When Nixon Met Mao in the UK); The Uses and Abuses of History (2008); Extraordinary Canadians: Stephen Leacock (2009); The War that Ended Peace (2014); History's People (2015). Her most recent book is War: How Conflict Shaped Us.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, University of Toronto, Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, St Hilda's College and St Antony's College at the University of Oxford. MacMillan is also a Trustee of the Central European University in Budapest, and the Imperial War Museum and sits on the editorial boards of International History and First World War Studies.

She has honorary degrees from the University of King's College, the Royal Military College, the University of Western Ontario, Ryerson University, Huron University College of the University of Western Ontario, the University of Calgary, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Bishop's University and the University of Toronto. In 2006 Professor MacMillan was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2015 became a Companion. In 2018 she became a Companion of Honour (UK).
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