You may have planned your summer reads, but have you thought about your summer listening? The Reith Lectures are always a treat with recent lecturers including Grayson Perry, Hilary Mantel and Atul Gawande, and this year is no exception: Professor Margaret MacMillan is a brilliant historian and writer who brings an expert's view on war and society to the Radio 4 series this year.

In episode one, we hear about when wars first broke out. 

Go to the Radio 4 website to listen or download now.

From the BBC website:

She begins by asking when wars first broke out. Did they start with the appearance of homo sapiens, or when human beings first organised themselves into larger groupings such as tribes, clans, or nations? She assesses how wars bring about change in society and, conversely, how social and political change influences how wars start and are fought. And she discusses that dark paradox of war: that it can bring benefits and progress.

The programme is recorded before an audience at the BBC Radio Theatre in London and includes a question and answer session chaired by Anita Anand.

Margaret MacMillan is emeritus professor of international history at Oxford University and professor of history at the University of Toronto. She says: "We like to think of war as an aberration, as the breakdown of the normal state of peace. This is comforting but wrong. War is deeply woven into the history of human society. Wherever we look in the past, no matter where or how far back we go, groups of people have organised themselves to protect their own territory or ways of life and, often, to attack those of others. Over the centuries we have deplored the results and struggled to tame war, even abolish it, while we have also venerated the warrior and talked of the nobility and grandeur of war. We all, as human beings, have something to say about war."

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