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A History of Warfare Paperback – November 1, 1994
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Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you do not believe in this theory or are just a big fan of Clauswitz, this book is still a fascinating read because it connects the whole history of war in one relatively slim volume. This is a rare accomplishment, and it provides and excellent base of study for any time period of history.
As for presentation, the book is divided into four main parts with interludes between them, discussing the major advances in military technology. Titled Stone, Flesh, Iron, and Fire, he mainly discusses the advance of weapons from bronze, to iron, to gunpowder, the rise and fall of the horse, and the institution of national armies as major turning points. The book can drag at some points, but on the whole is a quick read, though you may want to read some parts twice just because there is a lot of information here. In short this is a must own for any history buff!
Most interesting is probably the notion that the western (originally Greco-Roman) ideal of decisive battle is an abberation. In fact, natural (primitive) war involves many safeguards and rituals to prevent high casualties. That is not to say that conquest is not possible in primitive war - Aztecs, Monguls, and Turks all managed to set themselves up as permanent rulers in conquered lands. However, casualties are light and there is no shame in retreat in this type of warfare. Keegan then proceeds over ground well-travelled by military historians - how the evolution of European power has led to Western military hegemony since the 17th century. For my money, Hanson's Carnage and Culture (from which Keegan quotes) is a more interesting and provocative read, but Keegan is convincing and fresh in his slant on the same topic.
The only negative aspect of the book, for me, is the theme - that of debunking Clausewitzian theory. It seems to me that, in fact, Keegan has proven (not disproven, as he claims) that Clausewitz's basic assertion, "War is politics by other means" is true. It feels like Keegan is bending the definitions of war and politics to serve his philosophy, and that a Clausewitz apologist could fudge definitions of war and politics to re-prove Clausewitz's assertions.Read more ›
What really devalues the work is this: the author engages in a philosophical/anthropological/social scientific debate with Clausewitz's sentence that war is the continuation of politics (he leaves out the rest of the statement, "by other means"). In fact, the author goes so far afield in his argument for "culture of war" as opposed to "nature of war" the reader is left wondering what all the fuss is about. Are not culture and politics two sides of the same coin? If not, then they certainly are members of the same currency. No one has proven that stateless societies lack "polity" though some have tried. Whenever two are gathered, someone gains "something" over the other. That is political.
Besides the failure to fully define terms such as culture, politics, warfare, he also misrepresents arguments and ignores the fact that Clausewitz's _On War_ was never completed by the author. All must recognize that he was in the process of revising and rewriting when he died. So, to avoid falling into the same trap the author did, I will leave the gallant Prussian and move on to my other objections.
There are some errors of interpretation (understandable) and fact (less so). The atomic bomb was NOT designed to end wars without commitment of manpower on the battlefield as the author contends.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book, that I read as basis for an University seminar, is really excellent in analizing the techniques, strategies and criteria utilised along the centuries by different... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Horace
This is more than a history of warfare - as he so often does, Keegan goes well below the surface and addresses questions of "why" and not just what, who and how wars begin... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joe Tye
This was a gift for my daughter for her thesis research. She was happy.Published 4 months ago by Sc
Well-researched and skillfully delivered, A History of Warfare follows humanity's warmaking tendencies from the tribal times up to the nuclear-weapons realities of the Cold War. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jaroslav Tuček
War is such a vast subject to cover, so if there are some must read books
that you should read on the subject this is definitely one of them. Read more
Book was as advertised and it arrived before the promised date. Good outfit.Published 10 months ago by William Wood
Wonderfully written by someone who definitely did his research. It may be too scholarly for some, but worth every minute of reading through it. Mr. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Les S. Moore
A great book for those that like military history. Cover the entire span of human history from the stone age to the nuclear age. Read morePublished 11 months ago by connosieur