Peace, many would agree, is a goal that democratic nations should strive to achieve. Considering the question of whether democracy is dependent on war, two celebrated political scientists trace the ways in which governments have mobilised armies since antiquity. They find that our modern form of democracy not only evolved in a brutally competitive environment but also was quickly excised when the powerful no longer needed their citizenry to defend against existential threats. Bringing to life many of the battles that shaped our world, the authors show how centralised monarchies replaced feudalism, why dictatorships can mobilise large forces but often fail at long-term military campaigns and how drone warfare has weakened democracy. In the spirit of Francis Fukuyama and Niall Ferguson, Forged Through Fire has far-reaching implications and will become the centrepiece of the democratic debate.