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Today's selection -- from The Cash Nexus by Niall Ferguson. With the dawn of the Industrial Age, casualties suffered by Western forces in wars increased dramatically and culminated in the 57 million deaths of World War II. Since that peak, however, casualties suffered by these same Western forces have slowed precipitously. Why?:
"The death toll of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13) was 1.2 million. A century later, the Napoleonic Wars killed 1.9 million men. And a century after that, the First World War cost more than 9 million servicemen their lives. Perhaps as many as 8 million people died in the maelstrom of the Russian Civil War of 1918-21 (though most of these were the victims of the famine and pestilence unleashed by the conflict). But even this figure pales into insignificance alongside the total mortality caused by the Second World War. For military personnel, the total body count was roughly twice the figure for the First World War. But this figure excludes civilian casualties. According to the best available estimates, total civilian deaths in the Second World War amounted to 37.8 million, bringing the total death toll to nearly 57 million people. In other words, the majority of deaths in the Second World War were due to deliberate targeting -- by all sides -- of civilians on land and sea and from the air. Including all the minor colonial wars like the Boer War and all the civil wars like the one that raged in India after independence, the total figure for war deaths between 1900 and 1950 approaches 80 million./.../