1st Edition

Understanding Civil Wars
Continuity and change in intrastate conflict

ISBN 9780415855174
Published April 25, 2014 by Routledge
216 Pages

USD $56.95

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Book Description

This volume explores the nature of civil war in the modern world and in historical perspective.

Civil wars represent the principal form of armed conflict since the end of the Second World War, and certainly in the contemporary era. The nature and impact of civil wars suggests that these conflicts reflect and are also a driving force for major societal change. In this sense, Understanding Civil Wars: Continuity and change in intrastate conflict argues that the nature of civil war is not fundamentally changing in nature.

The book includes a thorough consideration of patterns and types of intrastate conflict and debates relating to the causes, impact, and ‘changing nature’ of war. A key focus is on the political and social driving forces of such conflict and its societal meanings, significance and consequences. The author also explores methodological and epistemological challenges related to studying and understanding intrastate war. A range of questions and debates are addressed. What is the current knowledge regarding the causes and nature of armed intrastate conflict? Is it possible to produce general, cross-national theories on civil war which have broad explanatory relevance? Is the concept of ‘civil wars’ empirically meaningful in an era of globalization and transnational war? Has intrastate conflict fundamentally changed in nature? Are there historical patterns in different types of intrastate conflict? What are the most interesting methodological trends and debates in the study of armed intrastate conflict? How are narratives about the causes and nature of civil wars constructed around ideas such as ethnic conflict, separatist conflict and resource conflict?

This book will be of much interest to students of civil wars, intrastate conflict, security studies and international relations in general.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction  2. Scholarship on Civil War: Topics, Debates and Controversies  3. Framing Civil Wars  4. Case Study: Japan, 1877  5. American Civil War, 1861-65  6. Liberia, 1989-96  7. Bosnia, 1992-95  8. Sri Lanka, 1983-2009  9. Patterns of Civil War in Historical Perspective  10. Civil Wars in the 21st Century: New Wars, Declining Wars, Post-colonial Wars of Statebuilding  11. Conclusion: Containing, Ending and Resolving Civil War - Lessons from History

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Edward Newman is Professor of International Security at the University of Leeds, UK. He is editor of the journal Civil Wars, and the author of many books and articles on armed conflict, security and international intervention.


'Edward Newman has provided civil war scholars and educators with a unique and important book. In addition to analyzing the societal and political determinants of civil war, the volume provides unique insights into its consequences, management, and epistemological debates. The case studies provide a broad geographic, type, and temporal range, including the often-ignored 19th-century conflicts and wars with statebuilding implications. I highly recommend this timely contribution to an extremely important subject matter.'-- Karl DeRouen, Jr, University of Alabama, USA

'In an incisive and provocative new study, Edward Newman makes a compelling case for considering state-building as one of the key political drivers of civil war. Wide-ranging, knowledgeable and erudite, Understanding Civil Wars is an excellent addition to current scholarship on one of the world's most pressing issues. Written by a leading scholar in the field, this book is essential reading for the expert and lay reader alike.' -- Richard Jackson, University of Otago, New Zealand

'Edward Newman always produces imaginative and informed contributions to debates on contemporary security. This book is no exception, providing an insightful and timely exploration of key debates related to civil war in the modern world.' --  Caroline Kennedy, University of Hull, UK

'This book addresses the seemingly pervasive problem of civil war in a novel way. It argues that this phenomenon – which today draws unprecedented attention by scholars and practitioners – is not as recent or different as many would think. Furthermore, it has many of the same roots through history. This is documented in a fresh, empirical and critical analysis of a number of well-known civil wars. Thus, the work of Newman provides challenging insights, particularly on factors relating to the state, local power politics and the strategies of liberal peacebuilding.'--Peter Wallensteen, Uppsala University and the University of Notre Dame

'In this thought-provoking volume, Newman evaluates major strains in the often contradictory scholarship on civil wars.' -- Journal of Peace Research

'The book presents a useful examination of the modern state and the challenges posed, particularly in light of liberal state-building efforts so prevalent in the post-Cold War era... Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate, research, and professional collections' --M. Olson Lounsbery, East Carolina University, CHOICE