Civil wars show a remarkable variation in how long they last. Some end within days; others continue for decades. What explains the extreme intractability of some wars while others are resolved quickly? This article argues that conflicts with multiple actors who must approve a settlement (veto players) are longer because there are fewer acceptable agreements, information asymmetries are more acute, and shifting alliances and incentives to hold out make negotiation more difficult. This veto player approach to explaining variation in civil war duration is tested using a new dataset containing monthly data on all parties to each civil war begun since World War II. The statistical analysis shows a strong correlation between the number of veto players and the duration of civil war.