Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review-Warfare in the Western World: Military Operations from 1600 to 1871

Dear Reader,

Today, I am going to briefly review the book, Warfare in the Western World: Military Operations from 1600-1871, edited by Robert Doughty and Ira Gruber. I am considering this text for my "War and Culture in the Atlantic World" class in the spring semester.  This book is the first volume of a two part series covering warfare from 1600 to the present, this volume covers all of what we would consider the Kabinettskriege period, and a bit more besides. The book is divided into three parts: 1600-1783, 1783-1815, and 1815-1871.

The book has many fine features- including frequent maps, so important to the study of military history. Beginning with the, "Military Revolution" under Gustavus II Adolph of Sweden, the authors take the story all the way through to the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. The coverage of topics and themes is quite broad- strategy, particularly the logistics of war, are given a large place in the narrative.

However, there are a few complaints as well. Social military history- attempting to understanding the life patterns of soldiers, plays a rather minor role in the overall story. In addition, nearly the entire third part of the book is spent on the history of the American Civil War, which is not entirely surprising when all of the authors come from American universities. Sadly, western military interaction with non-Europeans is not considered in any detail.

Overall, this is a good book for a undergraduate survey of the military history of this period. Professors may wish to supplement it with Jeremy Black's Warfare in the Eighteenth Century, if the class is supposed to cover both western and non-western warfare.

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns

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