Although this book is by now almost ten years out of date, it’s a fun introduction to world conflicts for the sort of people (like me) who always feel like watching the news is like coming into the 71st episode of a long-running soap opera. Who are these people? Why are they angry at each other?
The tone is very glib and flippant, which is amusing, but may come off as disrespectful to the people involved. On the other hand, the subject is so very sad that the lighthearted tone kept it from being overly depressing in parts. Well, it sort of kept it. It’s hard to read about centuries of conflict–torture and murder and famine and displacement–without feeling touched.
I came away from this book feeling that any peace we have is a rare treasure, like an orchid blooming, and not the norm. I also decided I don’t ever want to buy a diamond, or invest in people who manufacture weapons, because I don’t want to contribute to the bloodshed.
And it’s already made me better informed about the world. When that Indian soldier recently was trapped under the avalanche on the glacier, and they left managed to get him out after five days and he was still alive, I didn’t have to ask “WTF was he doing up there in the first place?” because this book explained why India has soldiers on the glacier in the Himalayas.