Peace in World History  book cover
1st Edition

Peace in World History

ISBN 9780415716611
Published March 27, 2014 by Routledge
220 Pages

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Book Description

In Peace in World History, Peter N. Stearns examines the ideas of peace that have existed throughout history, and how societies have sought to put them into practice. Beginning with the status of peace in early hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies, and continuing through the present day, the narrative gives students a clear view of the ways people across the world have understood and striven to achieve peace throughout history. Topics covered include:

  • Comparison of the ‘pax Romana’ and ‘pax Sinica’ of Rome and China
  • Concepts of peace in Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, and their historical impact
  • The place of peace in the periods of expanding empires
  • The emergence, starting in the 19th century, of formal schemes to promote peace amid increasingly destructive technologies for warfare

Moving away from the view of history as a series of military conflicts, Peace in World History offers a new way of looking at world history by focusing on peace. Showing how concepts of peace have evolved over time even as they have been challenged by war and conflict, this lively and engaging narrative enables students to consider peace as a human possibility.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Peace and Early Human Societies

3. The Great Empires: Peace in Rome and China

4. Peace in the Buddhist Tradition

5. Religion and Peace in the Postclassical Age

6. Peace in a New Age of Empires

7. Peace in an Industrial Age

8. Peace in the Decades of War

9. Peace in Contemporary World History

10. Regional Approaches to Peace: the Comparative Challenge

11. Peace Ideas and Peace Movements after 1945


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Peter N. Stearns is Provost and a professor of history at George Mason University.


The accomplished social historian Peter Stearns shows us that peace building is as much our inheritance as war making. With admirable thoroughness and clarity, Dr. Stearns examines human efforts toward peace, beginning with early forms of social organization among hunting and gathering peoples and extending all the way to the present. A strength of the author's analysis is that he also examines why peace building efforts have so often failed. Dr. Stearns empowers us to know what we are really talking about and building on as we work toward a twenty-first century characterized by widespread peace and human flourishing.

— Richard Yoshimachi, President, Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue

This book is an extraordinary synthesis of what humans have done to experiment with peace in different contexts. It is also an invitation to think about peace as a possibility in the midst of contradictory signs. Peace is a choice that humans have made in very different contexts and yielding different results. Peter Stearns is a master in navigating the complexities of peace as it emerges in world history.

— Andrea Bartoli, Dean, School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University

"…[a] valuable addition to a growing body of good peace history literature… Summing Up: Recommended."

— G. D. Homan, emeritus, Illinois State University in CHOICE