This book is a survey of the effects of war on human society. It asserts, uncontroversially, that war has shaped the development of political rights, technology, and art, among other things. The problem is that such an assertion is not an argument—it’s a basic statement of fact. Accordingly, the book fails to advance an original thesis. That isn’t to say that the book is unenjoyable. MacMillan is capable of summoning a huge range of illustrative anecdotes, passages, and statistics to engage the reader over the course of the book’s nine topical chapters. However, these illustrations are evidence in search of an argument, one which the author never really makes.