A History of War – An Interintellect Salon Series with Anna Gát

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Starts Tuesday March 9, 3pm NYC / 8pm London.

Runs every second Tuesday of the month until September.

About this series

After her popular Salon series History of Love, Interintellect founder Anna Gát returns to complete the picture: how the history of conflict and warfare underpinned our journey from wilderness-dwellers into masters of complex civilisations – our conquest of the world and our complicated march toward progress.

We will discuss war both as a catalyst and as an obstacle, as a merciless clarifier of priorities and an aimless creator of confusion and suffering.

More casual living room discussions than academic lectures, in this Interintellect Salon series we’re invited to bring our own knowledge, readings and assessments to the table.

We will ask questions like: Why do people wage wars? Are wars inevitable? Could there have been a history without war? Will the future be peaceful…?

Each of the series’ episodes, which will largely follow historical chronology, will focus on a specific area of warfare: planning and attack, defence and reconstruction, retaliation and aftermath – but we’ll also look at how war strategy and intelligence work, as well as the powerful role of the media.

Some suggested readings should be completed, but no preliminary expertise is required: just bring your curiosity and openness, and let’s discuss this fascinating topic!



  • Ticket per Salon: $25
  • Ticket for the series (7 episodes): $122.5

Ticket series holders will be invited to the Interintellect community forum on Discord, and enjoying many perks including discounts for events, members-only gatherings, and more!


March 9 – What is War?

What war is and isn’t. The cultural meaning of war. Evolutionary theories of warfare and the psychology of group aggression. War as the stuff of epics and blockbuster movies. The development of the national sentiment. War as a political tool at home, and a vehicle of wealth abroad. Auxiliary progress in monetary policy, applied science and medicine as side-effects of war. Global secular – postwar – justice. The military as social equaliser and mobility ensurer. The difference between war and insurrection, policing and invasion, mercenary activity and national defence. Secret wars and alleged wars that never happened.

April 13 – Attack Part I: From Flintstones to Gunpowder

From hunting to hunting men – tribal warfare. Provocation and mobilisation. Justifications of aggression – types of war by cause (greed, religion, revenge … madness). POWs and scapegoats. Being ready: training for war from Plato’s Republic to Full Metal Jacket. Supply lines, transportation, and strategic depths – how agriculture, engineering and topography evolved to support wars. Weapons of choice. The difference between killing and conquering. How to keep one’s attack under control – and when to iterate. The Greeks, the Crusades – empires and extension. How wars become more complex, and more desperate, until it stops making sense to start them at home in the first place.

May 11 – Attack Part II: The Factories of War

Warfare as a playground of genius: strategic brilliance and innovations in science, technology and finance. The science of killing: laboratories of plotting the demise of nations. The terrible technological delta between geographies opening – dominating by steel then satellite. The Malthusian traps of war: more progress meaning more mouths to feed leading to more war. Buffer states, accidental colonies – the carving up of the world. The masterminds – and failed thinkers – of modern warfare: Elizabeth and Catherine, Napoleon and Friedrich, McGeorge Bundy and Hitler, the Manhattan Project, Roosevelt, Putin, and Hilary. Attack from the air and with code.

June 8 – Defence: Is There a “Good Reaction” to War?

Fences, ladders, hunger, tunnels: the logistics of living under siege. From guerrilla warfare to fortifications of stone – Thermopylae, Masada, Vienna, Moscow, London, Leningrad, Saigon and Baghdad. Prevention, resistance, ghettos, defection. The protection and suffering of civilians. A city at war: the re-appropriation of buildings, the destruction of civilisations. A look at terrain and weather, food and water, disease and prostitution – the jungles and deserts, both literal and metaphor. Preemptive development of the space frontier. Morale and marketing – the role of the war reporter on the ground.

July 13 – Strategy Part I: Intelligence, Planning, Changing Course

The big ruses of war: the Trojan Horse, Birnam forest, the Enigma, Juan Pujol García – spies and maps, conspiracies and misinformation. Mobilisation involves a high number of people: how do you keep it secret? Defending strategic locations is key: how do you stay informed? Mongolian deceit and Cold War microfilms. The dangers of transmitting information on foot and by data. Authoritarian surveillance, recruitment, double agents, interrogation and government agencies dedicated to espionage.

August 10 – Strategy Part II: Justice, Diplomacy, Aftermath

What happens after war. Forgiveness and reconstruction. Revenge and revising the law. Canossa, the Schism – charters, treaties, conventions, hard-agreed-on peace. Versailles, Yalta, Dayton; rebuilding Warsaw and Dresden, Berlin and Nanjing. A look at international justice systems from Nürnberg to The Hague. The revolutions in thinking about genocide and war crimes, crimes against humanity. Aid agencies and refugees. The redistribution of land and wealth after war. Proxy wars without perpetrators, drones without drivers.

September 14 – The Future of War

Video games, NFL, and space technology. Vast movements of nonviolence and well-marketed vicarious aggression. Sedatives and stimulants, alternative facts and private wars. Cyberattacks and demilitarisation – over-equipped police forces and the war at home. Plus ça change…?


Each episode in this series will come with its own brief and feasible reading list of articles and essays designed to fit into our busy lives.

However, if you prefer and have the bandwidth, there are some longer texts you might want to have at hand:

You might also want to watch:


The Salon series carries a 18+ age restriction.

During the series we will read, watch and discuss things that some attendees might find distressing. Participant discretion is advised.