Causes of War: Vol 1

The Causes of War: Volume 1:

3000 BCE to 1000 CE

This is the first volume of a projected three volume series charting the causes of war from 3000 BCE to the present day. Written by Alexander Gillespie, a leading international lawyer, and using as its principal materials the documentary history of international law (largely in the form of treaties and the negotiations which led up to them), these volumes explain what the treaties can tell us about the causes of war. In departing from the various theories put forward by historians, anthropologists, and psychologists - for instance, that warfare stems from disputes over private property, or that warfare is inherent in human behavior - Alexander Gillespie offers a different taxonomy of the causes of war, which, he explains can be grouped under the headings of politics, religion, migration, and empire-building. The Causes of War will be a fascinating study for international lawyers and legal historians with an interest in the laws of war and armed conflict.


Unique and of unquestionable relevance. both works are appreciable for the impressive quantity of the historical and legally pertinent materials gathered by the author. This is useful from the perspective of understanding the background of today's rules on the recourse to armed force and international humanitarian law.
Carlo Focarelli, Italian Yearbook of International Law, Volume 23, 2013

The marshalling of 4000 years of human history into a single analytical whole is quite remarkable. It is satisfying to complete reading the book and absorb this sense of perspective. The analysis is also effective. The four themes identified - empires, migratory peoples, politics and religion - all underlain by a desire for wealth, is persuasive.The Causes of War raises many more issues and questions than can be dealt with here. It has made a deep impression on the writer of this review. It raises profound questions about whether humanity is now more able to avoid the calamity of war and why or why not. The remaining three volumes are awaited with anticipation.
Cameron Moore, New Zealand Yearbook of International Law

The scourge of war never ends. If we are ever to be rid of it we need to understand the warlike history of homo sapiens. Professor Gillespie in his unique work tells us what we need to know. Will we heed it?
Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former, Prime Minister of New Zealand, President of the New Zealand Law Commission, and chair of the UN Inquiry Panel into the Gaza Bound Flotilla of 2010.

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