How civil wars start and why it could happen again in America

An author photo and book cover
Barbara F. Walter is a professor at the University of California-San Diego and an expert on civil wars and violent extremism. Her new book is "How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them."
Author photo by Debora Cartwright | Book cover courtesy of publisher

When Barbara F. Walter started researching her book, “How Civil Wars Start, and How to Stop Them,” in 2018, many wondered if it was an “exercise in fear-mongering.” The idea that the U.S. could find itself mired in a second civil war seemed incredulous, even irresponsible.

In 2021, it doesn’t feel as implausible.

Walter’s book examines how civil wars start and what they have in common. “Civil wars ignite and escalate in ways that are predictable; they follow a script,” Walter writes in her introduction

Walter joined host Kerri Miller to talk about the risk factors for a country imploding and why she is concerned about America right now.


  • Barbara F. Walter is a professor of international relations at the University of California-San Diego and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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