PDA

View Full Version : Decades of war?



ssbittner
07-01-2014, 03:00 AM
I'm trying to revise a story that has two cultures locked in war for over a century. My sticking point is I don't have enough of an idea of what the effects of a century of war would be on a pre-industrial/early-industrial society. Obviously, I've heard of the Hundred Years' War, but I don't want to style my story too closely off any one war. Does anyone know of other wars/periods in history anywhere on the globe where warfare was constant for decades? If so please give me some names to look up.

And if anyone has ideas on what the economic effects of such a long war would be, I wouldn't mind hearing that, either.

Thanks in advance.

WeaselFire
07-01-2014, 03:56 AM
Does anyone know of other wars/periods in history anywhere on the globe where warfare was constant for decades?
Palestine. Ireland. China/India. Iraq. Afghanistan. Syria. Lebanon. Israel. Somalia. Chad. Libya. Heck, just about everywhere.

What do you need for your story?

Jeff

ssbittner
07-01-2014, 04:16 AM
For the story, I need constant, non-stop war (at a low level) for about a century. No huge battles, just continual constant skirmishing. But some of my beta readers felt this would have a huge impact on the society, so I wanted to study some real-life examples.

badwolf.usmc
07-01-2014, 04:30 AM
For the story, I need constant, non-stop war (at a low level) for about a century. No huge battles, just continual constant skirmishing. But some of my beta readers felt this would have a huge impact on the society, so I wanted to study some real-life examples.

Well, if it is a multi-generational war, then the war would start to define the culture. Think of the mass barbarian tribe migration towards the end of the Roman Empire era.

Maxinquaye
07-01-2014, 04:47 AM
The Thirty years war is one such example. It was so bad that some Germans still warn their children to eat their vegetables, or "the Swede will come and get you".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Years%27_War

ssbittner
07-01-2014, 05:16 AM
Thanks, this is very helpful.

melindamusil
07-01-2014, 07:22 AM
I used to live in Liberia, west Africa, where they were recovering from a 15-year-long civil war. Now, that war may be a bit more "high-level" than you were thinking, but here's my observations.
-the economy was destroyed. Poverty was rampant. Massive unemployment.
-you could still see bombed-out buildings or bombed-out villages. Rebuilding took a backseat to finding enough food or water.
-everyone was affected by the war. Everyone knew someone who had been killed, raped, or had an arm/leg chopped off by the soldiers. Usually they knew multiple someones.
-this is a bit more abstract, but it seemed to me like there was a real loss of hope. The first time someone bombed their house, they rebuilt the house. The second time, they rebuilt. But somewhere around the third or tenth or twentieth time, they just gave up. Why bother rebuilding if it's just going to be destroyed? Same with things like... finding a job, or finding a doctor, or just reconnecting with extended family. People were being killed or driven away so frequently that it just became easier to quit hoping. Then the war ended... But it's not so easy to hope.

ssbittner
07-01-2014, 09:41 AM
I used to live in Liberia, west Africa, where they were recovering from a 15-year-long civil war. Now, that war may be a bit more "high-level" than you were thinking, but here's my observations.
-the economy was destroyed. Poverty was rampant. Massive unemployment.
-you could still see bombed-out buildings or bombed-out villages. Rebuilding took a backseat to finding enough food or water.
-everyone was affected by the war. Everyone knew someone who had been killed, raped, or had an arm/leg chopped off by the soldiers. Usually they knew multiple someones.
-this is a bit more abstract, but it seemed to me like there was a real loss of hope. The first time someone bombed their house, they rebuilt the house. The second time, they rebuilt. But somewhere around the third or tenth or twentieth time, they just gave up. Why bother rebuilding if it's just going to be destroyed? Same with things like... finding a job, or finding a doctor, or just reconnecting with extended family. People were being killed or driven away so frequently that it just became easier to quit hoping. Then the war ended... But it's not so easy to hope.

This is very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience with this. It's one thing to intellectually understand the amount of lives lost in long wars, and another to figure out what all the ripple effects of that would be.

Bolero
07-01-2014, 12:50 PM
The weapons and war spending can deplete a nation for a generation to come. There can be big technical advances off the back of such expenditure which help later, but the country can be just plain short of money.
Look at the UK. We only paid off lend lease a few years ago. The centre of Bristol was still a bombed out rubble and weed strewn area in the 1970s. Today there are still bombed out ruins of churches that have never been rebuilt. Some of the postwar house and shop building was done fast and ugly.
There was growth after the war but it took a while to kick start and remember that rationing was actually worse after the war ended.

North Sea oil made a massive difference and boosted us into the '80s economic boom (which had flaws of its own - but that's not relevant here :) ).

The generation that lived through the war never forget it and those of a story telling bent will narrate their experiences to their children.

Also try reading Kate Adie's autobiography the Kindness of Strangers for a feel of war zones and the impact on the population.

King Neptune
07-01-2014, 04:22 PM
Constant low level war, if that's what you want, then look at Ireland. The Irish have been fighting the British for about eight hundred years, and the war isn't over. It has been mostly low-level, but there were spates of fierce war, and all over the country there are ruins of castles, churches, monasteries, houses, etc. that were destroyed in the war.

Then there was the Caucasian War that the Russians started in the 1720's and that ended in 1864. The Russians scattered Circassians around the Near East and destroyed a culture that had flourished for centuries.

Then there was the war between the Greeks and the Turks. Give me a while, and I'll think of some more. For study I think that the conquest of Ireland would be best, and be sure to read up on Cromwell.

melindamusil
07-01-2014, 07:37 PM
Some other thoughts...
Depending on the severity of the war, you may have a lot of widows (women whose husband were killed) and their children. That would mean there would be a lot of women needing jobs, so there'd be lots of teachers, nurses, seamstressses, etc.

Similarly, there may be an uneven ratio of men to women, since so many men were killed. Bad for un married women, if there's not enough men to go around. Could result in a lot of "old maids".

The American Civil War was another war that affected a huge percentage of the population. IIRC, it was something like 3 or 6 percent. In addition to the huge number of men killed, there was a flood of men returning who had lost a limb, so prosthetics would have been huge. Everyone would've known someone who was missing an arm or leg.

After wwii, the flood of men returning resulted in the "baby boom". Lots of people got married and had babies in 1945 (including my grandparents!). But this effect is seen, to some extent, with just about every war in history - war ends, men come home, lots of babies are born.

melindamusil
07-01-2014, 08:00 PM
One more thing, on the economy-
When I was in Liberia, there were very few jobs because so much of the infrastructure had been destroyed. With high unemployment, there was also a huge number of non-violent crime - people stealing stuff so that they would have enough money to buy food. The result was a sort of self defeating problem- there was very little incentive for an outsider to open a factory that would provide more jobs, because people would steal the machinery and pretty much anything that wasn't tied down. No jobs meant continued theft, continued theft meant no more jobs.

ssbittner
07-01-2014, 09:06 PM
Thanks, everyone! This is great! I feel like I have a solid place to start now.

Vito
07-04-2014, 04:56 AM
Another example is Guatemala, which suffered through a civil war between government troops and revolutionary forces from 1960 through 1996.

Vietnam, too -- pretty much constant warfare from 1946 through 1975. The time period of war there can be expanded back to 1941, when Japanese troops invaded and occupied Vietnamese territory. It can also be expanded forward to 1978-1979 when, in fairly quick succession, Vietnam invaded Cambodia and China (Cambodia's ally) invaded Vietnam.

KarmaPolice
07-04-2014, 11:51 AM
Just a few other examples, of varying severity...

Southern Rhodesia 1965-1980.
Watch a bunch of racist whites attempt to hold off the black majority as the economy slowly crumbles and becomes diplomatically isolated. By the end, every white male between 18-60 was in the army, bullets were rationed at five a day, everything was jury-rigged to hell and weapons like aircraft could be classed as 'lost technology'.

North Korea 1955 onwards.
A war economy without the actual war. Want to see what happens when a leadership gives the same answer to the 'guns or butter' question for sixty-plus years?

Israel 1994 onwards.
Let's just say they're fighting an enemy which has no place to go, nothing to lose and out-breeds them at a ratio of 4-1.

Turkey c.1975 onwards.
It could be argued that the threat of the PKK and 'Red Terrorists' between them gave the military a perfect excuse not to reform for a generation...

Albania c.1965 - 1990.
Like North Korea, but somewhat more laughable a threat. The only thing I know about this one is that by the end of it, they had the highest ratio of concrete pill-boxes per head of population on earth.

Taiwan 1949 - c.1975.
The Nationalists saw the island as just a 'temporary refuge' from the Communist mainland - so didn't bother building up infrastructure, government etc. It was only after this generation died off that Taiwan started to reform itself to resemble a true nation, not just one 'in exile'.

benbenberi
07-04-2014, 06:32 PM
The Spanish Reconquista lasted over 700 years, though not continuously in the same places at the same intensity for the whole time. (The fighting was probably most intense in the 11-13c.) The Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconquista) is as good a place as any to start research - decent overview with timeline & lots of links & references.

ssbittner
07-05-2014, 01:33 AM
Thanks again, everyone. I will look up these new examples, too.