Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to Ukraine (Hardcover)
New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, and Publishers Weekly bestseller
Aspects of History, The Critic, Octavian, and Modern War Institute Book of the Year.
Two leading authorities—an acclaimed historian and the outstanding battlefield commander and strategist of our time—collaborate on a landmark examination of war since 1945. Conflict is both a sweeping history of the evolution of warfare up to Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine, and a penetrating analysis of what we must learn from the past—and anticipate in the future—in order to navigate an increasingly perilous world.
In this deep and incisive study, General David Petraeus, who commanded the US-led coalitions in both Iraq, during the Surge, and Afghanistan and former CIA director, and the prize-winning historian Andrew Roberts, explore over 70 years of conflict, drawing significant lessons and insights from their fresh analysis of the past. Drawing on their different perspectives and areas of expertise, Petraeus and Roberts show how often critical mistakes have been repeated time and again, and the challenge, for statesmen and generals alike, of learning to adapt to various new weapon systems, theories and strategies. Among the conflicts examined are the Arab-Israeli wars, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the two Gulf Wars, the Balkan wars in the former Yugoslavia, and both the Soviet and Coalition wars in Afghanistan, as well as guerilla conflicts in Africa and South America. Conflict culminates with a bracing look at Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine, yet another case study in the tragic results when leaders refuse to learn from history, and an assessment of the nature of future warfare. Filled with sharp insight and the wisdom of experience, Conflict is not only a critical assessment of our recent past, but also an essential primer of modern warfare that provides crucial knowledge for waging battle today as well as for understanding what the decades ahead will bring.
General David Petraeus is a retired United States Army general and widely respected as a leading warrior intellectual. He graduated with distinction from the US Military Academy and earned a Ph.D. from Princeton University. He served for 37 years in the US Army, culminating his time in uniform with 6 consecutive commands as a general officer, 5 of which were in combat, including Command of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. He then served as Director of the CIA. He has held academic appointments at six universities and currently is a Senior Fellow and Lecturer at Yale. He is a prominent commentator on contemporary security issues, military developments, and global affairs. He is currently a Partner in a major investment firm and chairs that firm’s Global Institute.
Andrew Roberts is a biographer and historian whose books include the New York Times bestsellers Churchill: Walking With Destinyand Napoleon: A Life (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), Masters and Commanders, The Storm of Warand Salisbury: Victorian Titan(winner of the Wolfson Prize for History), among others. His most recent book, The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III,was published in November 2021. Roberts is a Fellow of the Royal Societies of Literature and the Royal Historical Society, and a Trustee of the International Churchill Society. He is currently Visiting Professor at the Department of War Studies at King's College, London, and the Roger and Martha Mertz Visiting Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
“A major book that will enlighten the layman and guide the statesman or geopolitical student." — Dr. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor; Nobel Prize laureate and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient; author of 20 books; and Bronze Star Medal recipient as an infantryman in WWII.
“Splendidly researched and persuasive in applying history’s altruism that failure to learn from the past compels us to repeat mistakes, this is a clear-sighted assessment of war’s future. Applying front-line military leadership and strong academic rigor, General Petraeus and Lord Roberts have crafted a most extraordinary book that bristles with lessons drawn skillfully from the past. Conflict provides the map and compass to guide us through a perilous future.” — General James Mattis, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), 26th Secretary of Defense; former Commander of US Central Command and Marine forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Gulf War; author of No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.
“Conflict is remarkably readable. . . . Many of the elements that Conflict dissects—the use of low-cost drones, the targeting of infrastructure, the power of social media and the patronage of outside powers, to name a few—flash across our screens in real time, reminding us that ‘war is thus still very much worth studying.’ Timely, engaging and instructive, Conflict is the best one-volume study of conventional warfare in the nuclear age. It sets a new benchmark in understanding modern war.” — Wall Street Journal
"Not since Clausewitz’ On War has a book provided so much insight into the nature of warfare. Deeply researched, brilliantly constructed and thoroughly entertaining, Conflict gets to the heart of why some nations win and others lose during war. Conflict could only have been written through the unique collaboration of General Dave Petraeus and Lord (Andrew) Roberts. It is a book that will shape the thinking of policy makers and military strategists for generations to come." — Admiral William H. McRaven, US Navy (Ret.); former Commander of US Special Operations Command and the Counter-Terrorist Task Force that brought Osama bin Laden to justice; author of the best sellers Make Your Bed, Sea Stories, and The Hero Code.
“Authoritative, compelling, highly readable. An exceptional book written by two absolute masters of their profession. Penetrating historical analysis, incisive operational and strategic judgments. It's an unbeatable combination. Erstwhile statesmen should not be allowed to take office until they pass a test on what this book contains!” — General The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux GCB CBE DSO; former UK Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of the UK General Staff, Commander of the International Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and author of Taking Command: The Autobiography.
“In Conflict, distinguished authors David Petraeus and Andrew Roberts show us how to think clearly about the present and future through examination of the past. They reveal continuities in the nature of war and changes in the character of warfare since the end of World War II. Conflict sheds light on today’s conflicts as well as the path to restore peace, prevent conflict, and secure a better future for generations to come. This is a book to read and discuss. We must not allow its lessons to lie inert within its cover.” — Lt General H.R. McMaster, US Army (Ret.); 25th U.S. National Security Advisor; highly decorated leader during the Gulf War, the War in Iraq, and the War in Afghanistan; Ajami Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute; author of Battlegrounds and Dereliction of Duty.
“There is much to learn from this book. Not only will it be studied by military officers for generations to come, it will also be enjoyed by those who simply appreciate military history. I can’t think of two people better qualified to identify the key lessons from conflict in the modern era - I just hope that our leadership will take the time to read this book and follow its advice.” — General Sir Nick Carter GCB CBE DSO, former UK Chief of Defence Staff; UK Chief of the General Staff; former Deputy Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, Commander of Regional Command-South in Afghanistan, and Commander of 20th Armoured Brigade in Iraq.
“There is no reason to expect the collaboration between a famous general and a distinguished author to be a marriage made in heaven, but this book is. Its narrative is seamless, sustained by comparative judgements, and calculated to challenge the professional and enlighten the generalist.” — Sir Hew Strachan, DL, FRSE, FRHistS, FBA, Professor of International Relations at the University of St Andrews; former Chichele Professor of the History of War at Oxford University; author of The Direction of War; The First World War; Clausewitz’s On War.
“Andrew Roberts is a remarkable historian; David Petraeus is one of the greatest generals in American history. He is also an impressive student and scholar of history, and one who made military history himself, and this is his most extensive effort yet to put the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan to paper. This book is a gem!” — Dr. Michael O’Hanlon, Philip H. Knight Chair at the Brookings Institution and author of more than 20 books, including Military History for the Modern Strategist: America’s Major Wars Since 1861 and The Art of War in an Age of Peace: U.S. Grand Stategy in an Era of Resolute Restraint.
"Most books are recommended as a good read, an informed insight or just necessary; Conflict is simply essential. It will be as relevant tomorrow as it is today. General Petraeus brings statesman, scholar, businessman and soldier credentials to bear to the challenge, while Lord Roberts adds a notable and noteworthy historian perspective. The result is essential reading. Conflict highlights the complexities and challenges of conflict wrapped up as they always are as a truly wicked and more than often an unresolvable problem, but one about which we still must make choices." — Lieutenant General Sir Graeme Lamb British Army (Retd) KBE, CMG, DSO; Former Commander of the UK Field Army, Deputy Commander of the Multinational Force-Iraq during the Surge, Commander of the 3rd Mechanised Division in Iraq, and Director of UK Special Forces
“This book is particularly timely. [Petraeus and Roberts] . . . judiciously trace how modern warfare has progressed since 1945 through the present moment, and they set forth the possible implications of the Russian-Ukrainian war for global conflicts in the future. They closely examine key battles that contributed to this evolution . . . and consider a future that will likely entail cyber warfare and AI. . . . Their arguments are consistently well grounded and based on vast experience. A must-read for military historians and strategists.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A thoroughly researched and remarkably informative survey and analysis of wars around the world since the end of WWII. The authors convey lessons learned from many aspects of modern warfare among nations and armed groups about strategic leadership, stressing the need for adaptability and tactical flexibility, while highlighting the impacts of evolving weapon and systems technologies . . . . The past shapes the present, making this expert military history invaluable for the reading public and everyone involved in politics and policy.” — Booklist
"Elegantly written and persuasively argued, Conflict is a hugely important book that explains why wars are still being fought and lost, what we can learn from them, and how we can protect ourselves from malign actors in the future. It should be required reading for any Western leader who questions whether military and financial support for Ukraine is money well spent." — Saul David, Telegraph (UK)
“Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to Ukraine is a rigorous and thoughtful study of what has happened on battlefields over the past eight decades.” — The Times (London)
“This is an ambitious and deeply researched volume which does not shy away from the gritty details of combat, as one might expect from a collaboration between the most distinguished commander of the Iraq War and the tireless chronicler of warriors ranging from Napoleon to Churchill. . . . Petraeus and Roberts focus on the outstanding commanders whose strategems and strategies were not only grand, but actually worked. The contrast they draw between Zelensky’s leadership qualities and Putin’s lack of them is telling. Yet their “existential war” has lessons for the military experts." — Daniel Johnson, The Critic