General War Among Great Powers in World History

Author: Melko, Matthew


"Melko examines many of the 'general wars' throughout human history and concludes, not surprisingly, that they are often related to deeper social crises, are very destructive, and, more often than not, are part of a hegemonic cycle. For the author, a general war must include at least three great powers, exist within one of 11 'mainstream civilizations,' as he defines them, and must last at least two decades. Looking at 38 cases that this complex produces and the sweep of 5,000 years (from the Sumerian conflict in the third millennium BCE to the present), the work provides considerable description of the general war phenomenon found throughout time and space. This holistic study ends up not with a model, but with 'a possible alternative framework' which suggests that general wars are fought one-third of the time, are more likely to end the rule of a hegemon than start one, are mostly likely to be intercivilizational, and so on. Undergraduates may find that the final 60 pages, which are devoted to useful maps and basic descriptions of the general wars, will stimulate further research." - CHOICE

" ... Dr. Melko has made an important step in identifying, describing and testing general war models. Further work should most certainly be done to build on his empirical research ..." - Comparative Civilizations Review, Fall 2005