Richard Overy

War and Progress

Liberation or Catastrophe? Reflections on the History of the Twentieth Century


Hambledon 213pp £25 order from our bookshop

In this book of essays and lectures, produced over the past fifteen years, Michael Howard reflects on the big questions of a paradoxical century scarred by war and violence on an unprecedented scale yet at the same time indulged with the greatest advances in health, wealth and security (at least for the developed world) in all history. Howard has spent his long and distinguished career pondering the origin and nature of war and few people are more qualified to judge just why war and progress cohabited in such uneasy partnership.

The essays at first glance seem to have much in common with those of that great essayist of the last century, A J P Taylor. They are trenchant and hard-hitting when they need to be; they range widely over the history of the last two hundred years with effortless ease; they are by turn pithy and thought-provoking. But Howard does not have Taylor’s puckish desire to make mischief. There is nothing deliberately provocative or perverse. Howard’s essays are wise where Taylor’s were merely clever.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,