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Ian Morris (historian)

Born (1960-01-27) January 27, 1960
Nationality American
Education The Thomas Alleyne School
Alma mater University of Birmingham;
Cambridge University
Occupation professor
Known for Why the West Rules--For Now

Ian Matthew Morris (born 27 January 1960) is an American historian. He is currently Willard Professor of Classics at Stanford University.[1]


  • Education and career 1
  • Books 2
  • Bibliography 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Education and career

Morris grew up in the United Kingdom. He attended Alleyne's comprehensive school in Stone, Staffordshire, and studied ancient history and archaeology at the University of Birmingham. He gained his PhD at Cambridge University.[1] From 1987 through 1995. he taught at the University of Chicago, and since 1995 he has been at Stanford.

Since joining Stanford in 1995, he has served as Associate Dean of Humanities and Sciences, Chair of the Classics Department, and Director of the Social Science History Institute. He was one of the founders of the Stanford Archaeology Center and has served two terms as its director.[2] He has published extensively on the history and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean and on world history. He has also won a Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching.[3]

Between 2000 and 2007, he directed Stanford University’s excavation at Monte Polizzo, Sicily.[2]

Ian Morris has been awarded research fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Hoover Institution,[4] National Endowment for the Humanities,[2] Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.,[5] and Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison.[5] He is also a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy and has been awarded honorary degrees by De Pauw University and Birmingham University. In 2012 his work was the subject of a lengthy profile in the Chronicle of Higher Education.[6] He delivered the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Princeton University in 2012.[7]


His 2010 book, Why the West Rules--For Now, compares East and West across the last 15,000 years, arguing that physical geography rather than culture, religion, politics, genetics, or great men explains Western domination of the globe. The Economist has called it "an important book—one that challenges, stimulates and entertains. Anyone who does not believe there are lessons to be learned from history should start here."[8]

The book won several literary awards, including the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction,[9] and was named as one of the books of the year by Newsweek,[10] Foreign Affairs,[11] Foreign Policy,[12] The New York Times, and a number of other newspapers. It has been translated into 13 languages.

The Measure of Civilization is a companion volume to Why the West Rules--For Now. It provides details of the evidence and statistical methods that Morris employed in constructing the social development index that he used in "Why the West Rules" to compare long-term eastern and western history. The International Studies Association and Social Science History Association devoted panels to discussing the book at their 2013 annual meetings. The book is being translated into Chinese.

War! What is it Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US and Profile Books in Britain in April 2014.[13] In it Morris argues that we now have enough evidence to trace the history of violence across many thousands of years, and when we do so, we discover a startling fact. For all its horrors, over the last 10,000 years, war has made the world safer and richer, because it is virtually the only way people have found to create large, internally pacified societies that then drive down the rate of violent death. The lesson of the last ten millennia of military history, he argues, is that the way to end war is by learning to manage it, not by trying to wish it out of existence. Morris also devotes a chapter to the 1974-1978 Gombe Chimpanzee War in Tanzania. The German translation of the book, "Krieg: Wozu er gut ist," was published by Campus Verlag in October 2013. Five more translations are being prepared.



  1. ^ a b [1], Stanford Classics Department.
  2. ^ a b c Classics and History Expert - Ian Morris, Stanford University.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Faculty win Guggenheims for 'exceptional' scholarship: 4/02, Stanford University.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Global power: On top of the world. The Economist.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^,1
  13. ^
    • Ben Shephard, War. What Is It Good for?, The Guardian, April 19, 2014.
    • Keith Lowe, War: What Is It Good For? by Ian Morris, The Daily Telegraph, April 25, 2014.
    • Catherine Lutz, 'War: What Is It Good For?' by Ian Morris, San Francisco Gate, July 10, 2014.
    • Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Book Review: 'War! What Is It Good For?' by Ian Morris, The Spectator, April 11, 2014.

External links

  • Ian Morris, Personal website.
  • Ian Morris, Stanford University Classics Department.
  • Classics and History Expert - Ian Morris, Stanford University Humanities Department.
  • Why the West Rules for Now, Interview with Ian Morris in
  • Ian Morris interview on "Conversations With History," a UC Berkeley podcast and video series.
  • ' Foreign Policy magazine review of Why the West Rules.
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