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Civilization has long sought to limit the violence and ugliness of war. This book traces the recent history of these efforts and explores important contemporary issues in the area. Geoffrey Best shows how the Second World War prompted reconstruction of international law, and charts the fortunes of its relations with war since then. He critically surveys the whole range of contemporary armed conflicts - high-tech international wars, wars of national liberation, revolutionary risings and civil wars. Far more than a litany of the trouble-spots and tragedies of the second half of the twentieth century, this book offers an original and thought-provoking approach to contemporary history, law, politics and ethics, and will be essential reading for anyone concerned with war.