Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to Ukraine

By David Petraeus and Andrew Roberts



Shortlisted for the Military History Matters Book of the Year Award

Two leading authorities – a bestselling 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 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, the former CIA director who commanded the US-led coalitions in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the prize-winning historian Andrew Roberts, explore over seventy years of conflict, drawing significant lessons and insights from their fresh analysis of the past. Petraeus and Roberts show how often critical mistakes have been repeated time and again, and explore 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 guerrilla 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 that occur 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.

‘This collaboration between a famous general and a distinguished author is a marriage made in heaven. The book’s narrative is seamless, sustained by comparative judgements, and calculated to challenge the professional and enlighten the generalist’ PROFESSOR SIR HEW STRACHAN, Chichele Professor of History of War

‘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. 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

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 17 Oct 2023
Pages: 544
ISBN: 978-0-00-856797-2
General David Petraeus is a retired United States Army general and widely respected as a leading warrior intellectual. He is currently a Partner in a major investment firm and chairs that firm’s Global Institute. He previously served for 37 years in the US Army, culminating his time in uniform with 6 consecutive commands as a general officer. Following a Senate confirmation by a vote of 94-0, he served as Director of the CIA.Andrew Roberts is a biographer and historian of international renown whose books include The Storm of War (winner of the British Army Book Prize), Napoleon the Great (winner of the Grand Prix of the Fondation Napoléon and the Los Angeles Times Biography Prize) and George III. 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.

‘How has warfare evolved in the eight decades since 1945? And what might it look like in the future? These are the questions posed by the authorial dream team of David Petraeus and Andrew Roberts: respectively a distinguished former US general and spy chief, and one of Britain’s finest military historians. This brilliant history shows how the wars of the future may go. 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’ -


‘Charts just about every war fought in Europe, the Middle East and Asia since the defeat of the Nazis… [a] compendious narrative… has all the more force in light of Israel’s retaliatory assault on Gaza’ -


‘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’ -


‘The pairing of Roberts with Petraeus is an engaging choice… conclusions are not offered as a means of political score-settling. What gives these observations new resonance is that they’re placed into the broader context of warfare’s evolution and future. They spend little time imagining a world without war, or even a world with less war. Their book - like Clausewitz’s canonical text - is a primer for today’s strategists, brimming with lessons about leadership, counter-insurgency, and intelligence. It’s a guide to effectively prepare for and win wars of the future, to achieve perpetual peace through perpetual strength’ -