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This book has a straight-forward and historically supportable thesis: men like war. They enjoy the whole show: the uniforms, the marching, the music, the killing, the games. Martin van Creveld does a fine job exploring many of these areas, often surprising the reader with some fascinating historical detail. He moves around the world seeking evidence, and is often very convincing, except for his strange apologia for the Serbs in the 1990s—how odd that the words “ethnic cleansing” do not appear in that discussion. But van Creveld tilts at a straw woman: feminists. He is convinced that women, who apparently desire to enter the military in great numbers pose a danger not just to the culture of war but to national security itself. Women must remain content with their traditional relation to the military as cheerleaders, breeders of soldiers, and prizes; they will utterly destroy the ability of any country to defend itself if allowed to serve. He is like a boy insisting that no girls are allowed in the tree-fort. I am not making it up; so important is it to van Creveld that women be kept out of the military, that he devotes the last chapter of his book to what he sees as the greatest threat to military preparedness: women. It is little wonder that women continue to show little interest in such a hostile field as military history.
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