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Barbarians and Brothers: Anglo-American Warfare, 1500-1865 Hardcover – April 7, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0199737918 ISBN-10: 0199737916 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


"In Barbarians and Brothers, Wayne Lee has taken on a daunting challenge -- nothing less than a history of over three and a hald centuries of Anglo-American warfare. He succeeds admirably, and the resulting work makes significant contributions, especially in the fields of early American and military history... Lee's work is informed by the larger overall trend toward anthropological, ethnographical approaches to violence. The conclusions rest on sound research conducted in archives on both sides of the Atlantic, and the extensive notes demonstrate Lee's familiarity with wide-ranging literature on violence and warfare in divergent cultural contexts... The book excels are connecting military affairs to larger societal concerns at almost every point... Lee has produced a fine work that should receive wide scholarship." --The North Carolina Historical Review

"Wayne Lee satisfies a long-overdue need in military history, by imposing an Atlanticist rationale to the conduct of warfare in the English Old and New Worlds. Renaissance and early modernists will rightly marvel at his fluency in the primary record." --Renaissance Quarterly

"Readers with a wide range of interests--including the cultural aspects of warfare and the debates about the value of the concepts 'limited' and 'total' war, the military revolution, and the 'American way of war'--will find Barbarians and Brothers rewarding reading." --Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Engaging and rewarding . Lee's framework for the study of war and culture, and his original exploration of the idea of restraint, will inform and enrich all future discussions." --Journal of British Studies

"[An] insightful book...Wayne E. Lee has produced a sound study bolstered by solid statistical and colorful anecdotal evidence, a skillful blend of old-fashioned narrative with nuanced analysis." --Journal of American History

"Wayne Lee's account of rapacity and restraint in warfare captures the reader while offering profound insight. His revealing case studies come from the English-speaking world of the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, but the lessons he draws from them should be taken to heart by historians studying any region or epoch. Lee establishes that the severity of troops on campaign-their 'frightfulness,' in his terminology-reflected their own sense of identity, the degree to which they perceived their enemy as alien or similar--barbarians or brothers--and the moral limits or license regarded as appropriate in dealing with such adversaries. Lee's argument emphasizes the cultural contexts of warfare and the need to study it from the bottom up, as something consistent with the conscience of the rank and file, not simply as something commanded by the officers who led them." --John A. Lynn, Northwestern University

"Wayne Lee's Barbarians and Brothers, with its rich source base and immersion in the scholarly literature, demonstrates how much we lose by skipping over the actual conduct of war as most historians do. Lee's elucidation of the kinds of careful distinctions and regulations those in authority made in the apparent chaos of war, especially as changing military technology required more recognizably modern discipline, shows how all of society was affected by military matters." --Karen Ordahl Kupperman, New York University

"Barbarians and Brothers is a sophisticated, readable, and most important history of 'frightfulness' in Anglo-American war from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. Lee makes clear that the level of violence in war-particularly the treatment of prisoners and civilians-was not just a matter of how soldiers and states perceived their enemies. Englishmen were more restrained in fighting brothers (other Englishmen) than barbarians (Irishmen or Native Americans). But violence also depended on complex and shifting relationships among the size of forces, the development of the state, the influence of international law and social norms, and the extent to which civilians were drawn into the fighting. This is an unusually rich and rewarding history." --Ira D. Gruber, Rice University

"Wayne Lee's innovative and masterful book tackles a vast scholarship, woven together to form a well-written and conceptually daring work. This book should be essential reading for students of early modern Ireland, early modern Britain, and colonial America and deserves to be read by anyone interested in how the United States has come to wage war." --Vincent P. Carey, State University of New York, Plattsburgh

"A book about martial conduct and etiquette, in combat and on campaign, is timely for military historians, as it is for cultural historians and lay readers. The cultural, intellectual, and legal implications that Lee draws from the battles and expeditions covered in Barbarians and Brothers are truly original and thought provoking, especially when considered in the context of ongoing American conflicts around the globe, with their messy and inconsistent efforts to determine whether enemies are potential brothers or barbarians."--Guy Chet, H-Net

About the Author

Wayne E. Lee is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lee served in the U.S. Army from 1987 to 1992. He is the author of Crowds and Soldiers in Revolutionary North Carolina: The Culture of Violence in Riot and War and the general editor of the Warfare and Culture series.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199737916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199737918
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.3 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I hope you will pick up and enjoy *Barbarians and Brothers*. It represents the culmination of years of thinking about warfare in the early modern Anglo and Native American world, but I wrote it (or tried to) to be accessible, and I built the argument around the stories and experiences of specific characters from the era. It's not always a happy story. It is, after all, about war. But it is also about how people wrestled with the violence in war and sought to contain it. I think we can learn a lot about how Americans now think about war by re-examining our earliest and most formative experiences with it.

I'm a professor of history at the University of North Carolina (although I hold my basketball loyalties with my alma mater Duke). I specialize in the military history of early modern Europe and America, with a special interest in comparative work. I've done a lot of work on Irish warfare, Native American warfare, and of course the more usual Europeans. I'm turning increasingly to examining military history through a world history lens. That's how I teach it, and it is the textbook project I'm now working on for Oxford University Press.

I've also worked as an archaeologist in various places, including Albania, Greece, and Loudoun County, Virginia. That work has influenced my historical work in various unexpected ways, but continues to be mostly a labor of love (with some journal publications and a forthcoming book on our project in Albania).

I was an officer in the U.S. army from 1987 to 1992, and served in the Gulf War. I blacksmith as a hobby, something which has also had interesting side effects on my historical work.

You can see my academic publishing list at

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Calvin Miller on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"War is hell!"

Yet, with the wonderfully written Barbarians & Brothers: Anglo-American Warfare,

1500-1865, the study of warfare doesn't require a stay in purgatory.

This historical review, by Wayne E. Lee, Ph.D., is essentially a page-turning march

through the evolution of early modern warfare, where Lee poignantly presents the

multitude of issues that faced combatants in the wars of Ireland, the English Civil War,

the colonial Anglo-Indian wars, the American Revolution, and American Civil War.

Only through the words of the warriors and the written history of the times does Lee

confront the conflicts, and still he manages to transition the reader from the first conflict

to the last. Sometimes Lee uses whimsy, other times reflection, and in yet another it is an

eloquent use of a common cliché.

This is a masterfully woven tale that illustrates how brutal war is, how forgiving warriors

can be in times of strife, and how vengeful they can revert to being if deemed necessary

- most often at the direction of the soldiers themselves and not their leaders. It is here

where Lee's study bridges history to today's conflicts, and it casts an ominous cloud

over any civilian population that thinks it is an innocent participant in any war. In short,

citizens are fair game, and Lee's broad brush paints a portrait of why.

Of course, U.S. Army General William Tecumseh Sherman was correct in his war is hell

analysis, yet the writings often thrown together by today's historians is even harder to

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Format: Paperback
This is a novel approach to understanding some wars. Lee posits that the concept of brother versus barbarian limits battlefield carnage, even if it is brother versus brother, and in the Revolutionary War (the American name for it, there are others!).

The wars described illustrate his point. English versus Irish, savage and barbaric (on both sides). Americans versus Indians, savage and barbaric. British versus American, brotherly. Union versus Confederate, brotherly--but Confederates versus Union black soldiers, not so much(Note: formally Great Britain did not exist prior to the union with Scotland after 1700, so the use of "English" and "British" varies).

The book is complicated by his concept that four factors determine the kind of war--capacity, control, calculation and culture. His book really makes a solid case for this, but I remain unconvinced; culture alone can account for the civil and the barbaric in a war context. It is still a well-written and thoroughly researched book. Linking the sequence from the Anglo-Irish wars, through colonial Indian wars, the Revolution and the US Civil War is an interesting and informative approach. Perhaps there is an Anglo American way of war. The reader will come away with something new, whether agreeing or disagreeing with the author's interpretation.
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By Cole Anderson on August 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lee's book delves into the origins of the European (particularly British) and American way of war. He explores the culture of a variety of peoples stemming from different areas and conflicts and the implications these cultures and subcultures have on the manner which the conflicts are fought. Lee's work focuses on the "frightfulness" and restraint of war and how cultural understandings and misunderstandings dictate where on the spectrum of violence the conflict falls. His work does not simply examine how conflicts were fought, but why they were fought in that manner. Barbarians and Brothers offers a unique insight into how the Irish, English, Native American peoples and Americans perceive conflict and how conflicts should be fought. The book is excellently researched and utilizes a wide and varying library of first hand accounts that places the reader into the minds of the people experiencing the conflict. As a former student of Lee's, I was always amazed at the ease that he is able to connect the dots to unite trends that exist over hundreds of years. In his book, Barbarians and Brothers, Lee does not disappoint. By examining conflicts ranging from the wars in Ireland, the English Civil War, and the early Colonial and Indian Wars, as well as, the American War for Independence and the American Civil War, Lee is able to outline a convincing argument for how the English and Americans' perceptions of war have developed over the last 500 years.
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