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Technology and War: From 2000 B.C. to the Present Paperback – September 9, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0029331538 ISBN-10: 0029331536 Edition: Revised & Expan

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Revised & Expan edition (September 9, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029331536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029331538
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In tracing the history of technology in the service of war from early times to the present, van Creveld organizes this major study by epochs: the Age of Tools, the Age of Machines, the Age of Systems and the Age of Automation. Chapters within each section explore the impact of technology on particular aspects of warfaresieges, mobilization, military professionalism, command of the air, naval warfareto cite but five of 20 categories. Major military inventions from chariots to ballistic missiles, and their integration with other arms, are discussed in chronological order, along with "civilian" inventions adapted to the military realm, such as the timepiece, the telegraph, the railway. Van Creveld ( Command in War ) goes beyond the hardware to examine how technology has affected strategy and tactics, intelligence, logistics, communications and command. With laudable clarity, he explains the application of nuclear energy and computer technology to the military, as well as the latest developments in electronic warfare and their possible deployment on future battlefields.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Epops on March 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
van Creveld has written a disappointingly careless, amateurish and derivative book. I read it in anticipation of tackling his more recent and highly regarded "Transformation of War". However, reading this one, which was published in 1989, has made me very reluctant to invest time and energy in the newer "Transformation", no matter how highly regarded it is.

His writing style is bombastic and verbose and his train of thought diffuse. I found myself having to constantly rewrite his sentences in my head in order to make them coherent. Whatever original thoughts he may have, and I don't think there are many, get lost in his digressive style.

He makes some rather curious statements for an expert on military history. He dismisses, for example, the military utility of the oxcart, completely overlooking the very potent military application made of the oxcart by the Afrikaner Voortrekkers in the Zulu Wars, where, at the famous Battle of Blood River, circled oxcarts served admirably as a mobile fortress. (This was of course also common practice during the same time period for immigrants on America's Oregon Trail). He describes the stirrup as "not representing military technology, properly speaking", yet later discusses at length maps and roads as military technology. He may be right about the stirrup, but isn't he then wrong about maps and roads? And why make such a trivially gratuitous statement in the first place?

At another point he casually slanders Winston Churchill (not the first to do so), describing British casualties in the last battle of the Mahdi War in the Sudan as being "victims of an ill-considered charge led by Winston Churchill against the wishes of the expedition's commander, General Kitchener".
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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful By "timdavin" on August 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
It has been suggested that several professional historians could live a comfortable and durable professional life working only on correcting the historical mistakes foisted upon the public by Martin Van Creveld. While I personally believe that this is a mild overstatement of the facts, I understand the reasoning behind the sentiment. However, it is perhaps unwise to criticise Van Creveld too harshly. His work undoubtedly brings attention to the field, and with attention flows the filthy lucre that supports legitimate historians in their search for the truth in history.
This book procedes from a single concept, that technology permeates war. Van Creveld's goal in this book is to explore the role that technology has played in the development and transformation of war. Van Creveld wants to explore not just the weapons of war, but the whole of technology as it interacts with war. Although he specifically denies that the book is organized chronologically, this is in fact how the text is arranged. There are four parts to the book, and each part contains five chapters.
In part one, "The Age of Tools from Earliest Times to 1500 AD" the five chapters are "Field Warfare," "Siege Warfare," "The Infrastructure of War," "Naval Warfare," and "Irrational Technology." The unifying concept identified by Van Creveld as the reason for this division is that the motive power behind most technology in this period was the muscles of animals and men. The first two chapters are fairly self explanatory in their titles. "The Infrastructure of War," according to Van Creveld, includes writing, cartography, and logistics. In "Naval Warfare" he focuses upon the weapons used aboard fighting ships and the method of propulsion (oars) used in purpose designed ships.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Howard Ferstler on August 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
The two other reviews of this book printed here pretty much skewer van Creveld on multiple levels. Everyone is entitiled to his opinion, of course, but my own opinion is that they are wrong about both van Creveld and the value of this book.

One critic felt that van Creveld's writing style was "bombastic and verbose and his train of thought diffuse," a comment that I find preposterous. The writing style is coherent and to the point. I have published four books myself, helped to edit two more, and also published over 150 magazine articles (none are even remotely close in terms of topic to what van Creveld has done, but the point is that I have written a lot and have dealt with editors), and so I am pretty sure I can recognize coherent writing, and van Creveld is an exemplary writer. The same critic complains about a "digressive style," with various sections following "the same empty pattern, promising much, delivering virtually nothing," but anybody who can read will have to dispute such claims. Van Creveld is dealing with a serious topic, but in several places within the text he interjects some subtle humor that shows he is much more adept at skillful writing than these two critics.

The same reviewer also claims that van Creveld essentially has Winston Churchill leading an "ill-considered" attack on the Mahdi's forces in Sudan. Admittedly, the reviewer may be correct that Churchill was not the leader of the 400-man charge, but was just following orders and only involved as a participant. This is essentially nit picking, and it is not uncommon at all for those looking to attack a writer will pick out details from an expansive text and then point out that a detail here or there was wrong - thereby impughning incompetence on the part of the writer.
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