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Dr Mike Martin is an author and consultant on conflict, particularly its causes. He regularly appears in international media, speaks and publishes on the subject.

Selected Radio / Podcasts



Why We Fight (Hurst/OUP) – 2018

‘A pivotal book in the study of conflict … brilliantly deploys recent discoveries in psychology and neuroscience to devastating effect. It has radical implications for policies for conflict reduction.’ Professor Sir Paul Collier, CBE, FBA

Fascinating [and] accessible . . . Martin’s enjoyable book makes a positive contribution to a major debate.Prospect

‘Anyone interested in war and international relations will find much to challenge and intrigue them.’ Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, KCMG, CBE, PC, FBA 

‘Important and illuminating … addresses very clearly the fundamental questions underlying the apparent paradoxes of violence and conflict.’ Patrick Hennessey, author of The Junior Officers’ Reading Club

‘This wide-ranging book explores how the evolution of the brain has shaped human behaviour in violence and war. Fascinating and insightful.’ Professor Stathis Kalyvas, Gladstone Professor of Government, University of Oxford

A brief history of Helmand (British Army) 2011

An Intimate War: An oral history of the Helmand conflict (Hurst/OUP) – 2014

This is the best book ever written on Afghanistan. Martin writes what I have been feeling since the 1980s, but have not expressed in such a clear way. It is a remarkable work of political anthropology.‘ Professor Olivier Roy

‘An extraordinary book … An Intimate War is the work of a wise and patient scholar.’ London Review of Books

‘An uncompromising, deeply thought and important contribution.’ The Times

‘It is impossible to do full justice in this review to the range and depth of Martin’s research, arguments, or account of the Helmand conflict.’ Asian Affairs

Crossing the Congo: Over Land and Water in a Hard Place (Hurst/OUP) – 2016

Shortlisted for the Wanderlust Adventure Travel Book of the Year / German Translation / Trailer

A remarkable story of psychological and physical endurance, and a compelling account of what pushes people to embark on impossible journeys.’ Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE

‘Crossing the Congo gives you a deeply, brutally honest view of what it is like to complete a great journey. At times they were lucky to survive.’ Robin Hanbury-Tenison OBE, DL, Dsc, Dhc, MA, FLS, FRGS

Chapter in Tribes and Global Jihadism (Hurst/OUP) – 2017

Dr Mike Martin

Dr Mike Martin is a former British Army officer trained to fluency in Pushtu who pioneered, designed and implemented the British Military’s Cultural Advisor programme, which trained Pushtu-speaking British officers to build and leverage relationships with local notables (profiled here in The Sunday Times).

He subsequently read for his PhD at King’s College London in Conflict Studies and wrote an oral history of the conflict in Helmand province, which he later turned into a critically-acclaimed book, An Intimate War.

He consults and speaks on conflict issues, and comments in the international media, often about the causes of conflict, or about Afghanistan.

Mike lives in London, where he is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London. His second book, giving an account of his crossing of the Congo, came out in 2016, and his third, called Why We Fight, which explores the evolutionary psychology of warfare, is available now.

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Speaking, Consulting, Legal Expertise & Training Design/Delivery

Mike regularly speaks and consults on a wide range of issues relating to conflict and strategy. He also designs and delivers bespoke training courses, and acts as an expert in legal cases, particularly relating to immigration and liability cases in Afghanistan. 

This encompasses work as wide-ranging as advising the UK Government and Ministry of Defence on its deployments to Afghanistan, through working with the US military, to briefing the cast and crew of the film War Machine featuring Brad Pitt. On the training side, Mike has designed and delivered language immersion programmes, cultural intelligence/advisory courses, and conflict analysis and assessment courses to a wide range of audiences. 

Mike regularly comments in international media including the BBC, NPR, DR, WYNC, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Vice, Information, Prospect etc.


To contact Mike: