How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them


By Barbra F Walter

‘When one of the world’s leading scholars of civil war tells us that a country is on the brink of violent conflict, we should pay attention. This is an important book’ Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, authors of How Democracies Die

Civil wars are the biggest danger to world peace today – this book shows us why they happen, and how to avoid them.

We are now living in the world’s greatest era of civil wars. While violence has declined worldwide, major civil wars are now being fought in countries including Iraq, Syria and Libya, and smaller civil wars are being fought in India and Malaysia. Even countries we thought could never experience another civil war – such as the USA, Sweden and Ireland – are showing signs of unrest. So how can we stop them?

In How Civil Wars Start, acclaimed expert Professor Barbara F. Walter, who has advised on political violence everywhere from the CIA to the U.S. Senate to the United Nations, explains the rise of civil wars and the conditions that create them – not least when countries are not quite democratic. As democracies across the world backslide and citizens become more polarised, civil wars will become even more widespread and last longer than they have in the past – but this urgent and important book shows us a path back toward peace.

• Sunday Times Smart Thinking Book of the Year 2022
• New York Times Bestseller
• Winner of The Global Policy Institute Award
• Book of the Year: Financial Times, The Times, Esquire, Prospect

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