Beyond War cover. Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace
(Oxford University Press, 2009)
By Douglas P. Fry

"This book offers a refreshing and timely look at the evidence that we have warfare in our genes. Clearly, the assumptions of those who argue this position exceed the facts. Using anthropological data, Fry argues forcefully that our species has not only a strong desire for peace, but also plenty of ways to achieve it." — Frans de Waal, author of Our Inner Ape

Beyond War cover. Popular notions hold that our species is inherently violent, that humans are — and always have been — warlike by nature. But as Douglas P. Fry convincingly argues in Beyond War, the facts show that our ancient ancestors were not innately warlike — and neither are we.

Fry points out that, for perhaps 99 percent of our history, for well over a million years, humans lived in nomadic hunter-and-gatherer groups, egalitarian bands where generosity was highly valued and warfare was a rarity. Drawing on archaeology and fascinating fieldwork on hunter-gatherer bands from around the world, Fry debunks the idea that war is ancient and inevitable and instead shows that, far from being natural, warfare actually appeared quite recently along with changes in social organization and especially the rise of states.

But Fry also points out that even today, when war seems ever present (at least on television), the vast majority of us live peaceful, nonviolent lives. We are not as warlike as it might seem, and if we can learn from our ancestors, we may be able to move beyond war to provide real justice and security for the people of the world. A profoundly heartening view of human nature, Beyond War offers a hopeful perspective on our species and a positive prognosis for a future without war.