A companion publication to an upcoming eight-part Public Broadcasting System series of the same title. As the title suggests, this is a history of war and its effects on people from earliest times to the present day. Throughout the narrative runs the ever-present thread of the threat of nuclear warfare as the ultimate unwritten final chapter to this book. As von Clausewitz wrote, ""War is an act of violence pushed to its utmost bounds."" And Dyer's history demonstrates this time and again. Actually, the author shows how the limits of warfare had really changed very little from, say, 1000 B.C. right up to America's Civil War, which ushered in the end of ""civilized warfare."" One interesting fact gleaned from this history, which should be of some comfort to optimists in our own day, goes back to the invention of gunpowder by the Chinese. The Japanese had exploited gunpowder to the point that when they invaded Korea over 300 years ago, they did so with an unheard-of cache of guns. But within a century, the Japanese had completely eliminated guns from their society, in war and out of it. This seems to be the only recorded example of a weapon, once having been invented, being banned from a society. War, however, does not add too much to the world's knowledge of warfare. As in these PBS series, it encapsulates already-known facts into a cohesive whole. The book, itself, is a multi-media effort worthy of the genre, mixing narrative with frequent quotations on warfare, with 135 photographs and 8 maps.