David Armitage

Eating One’s Own: Examining Civil War is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and intellectual historian David Armitage, the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University. This conversation covers Prof. Armitage’s extensive research on the history of ideas of civil war from Ancient Rome to the present.

A salient feature of his work is a strong focus on etymology as it relates to our understanding of how people interpreted (or misinterpreted) and perceived events in history which results in a fascinating exploration of how our understanding of various concepts has been prejudiced by past societies and past beliefs that we might not even be aware of, and how they, in turn, go on to influence other societies; and how this cumulative process frames our understanding of these ideas.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Imagining the Possibilities, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

  1. Historical Origins – In search of multiple perspectives
  2. The Semantic Archaeologist – Analyzing sedimented meanings 
  3. In Search of a Definition – Francis Lieber’s “ticklish business”
  4. Bellum Civile – The Roman reference point
  5. What Is To Be Done? – Applying historical understanding to the modern world
  6. Historical Relevance –  More prevalent than often recognized
  7. Oceans of Possibilities – Future work


Available in electronic format on all major booksellers, including:





Eating One’s Own: Examining Civil War is also part of the five-part Ideas Roadshow Collection, Conversations About History, Volume 3, which is available in both paperback and electronic format.