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The Art of War in Western World [Paperback]

by Archer Jones
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 19, 2000 0252069668 978-0252069666
"The magnum opus of one of America's most respected military historians, "The Art of War in the Western World" has earned its place as the standard work on how the three major operational components of war - tactics, logistics, and strategy - have evolved and changed over time. This monumental work encompasses 2,500 years of military history, from infantry combat in ancient Greece through the dissolution of the Roman Empire to the Thirty Years' War and from the Napoleonic campaigns through World War II, which Jones sees as the culmination of modern warfare, to the Israeli-Egyptian War of 1973".

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Concentrating on land warfare, distinguished U.S. military historian Jones argues that most military events can be explained by military factors. The framework of his analysis is strategy, which Jones sees as remaining consistent for 2500 years. When applied, however, strategy becomes dependent on tactics and logistics. These in turn are constantly modified by technology. The result is an ever-changing dialectic of options that continues to make war a viable political option even in the nuclear age. Both history on a grand scale and a provocative intellectual exercise, this ranks with Theodore Ropp's classic War in the Modern World (1959). Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado Coll., Colorado Springs
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A masterful 2,500-year overview of the operational aspects of land-based warfare in the West. . . . An altogether splendid synthesis. -- Kirkus Reviews

There has not been such a comprehensive and useful book in generations. -- Alan Gropman, Washington Post

Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (December 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252069668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252069666
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 3.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Using a very simple and easily understandable matrix to show the co-relations between the different weapons systems, Archer Jones has written a chronological summary of the development in strategy and tactics from early history until today. This uncomplicated model, pared with a wide use of known, historical examples, helps the understanding of the subject, and keeps the reader locked to the stress-less during seven hundred pages. I couldn't put away the book until I finished it. Then I waited a week until I read it for the second time. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the subjects of strategy and tactics as well as to people generally interested in history.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The evolution of tactical systems and combat arms... January 6, 2003
When hollywood shapes most everyones view of history this outstanding work cuts through the lies, mis-representations and myths to present a lucid, readable and facinating look at how evolution of superior tactical systems and combat arms overthrew the status quo through the ages and caused empires to fall.
From such technical innovations such as the stirrup and compound bow came the irresistable Hun and Mongol archers and the Mounted Knight. Tactical innovations such as the Roman Legion's Cohort became the battalion of today.
A simple example can illustrate the relevancy of the author's work. He traces the rise and fall of Heavy Infantry as the supreme combat arm of the battle field. Infantry in the form of the Phallanx and Legion were displaced by Heavy Cavalry, only to regain dominance as battalions armed with pikes and then bayonet tipped muskets. Armored vehicles, the new Heavy Cavalry once again gained accendancy, but today we see the infantry once more rising to the fore armed with light weight automatic and antitank weapons.
The author helps the layman understand how and why military forces and tactics have changed through 2000 years of history. In so doing he gives us insight into why they look the way they do today, and what forces drive the changes that we see taking place: the push towards lighter and more mobile infantry forces.
Just as technical innovations drove the Phallanx from the battlefield in Roman times and massed regiments from the battlefields in the early 1900's, it is driving change today.
Light air mobile infantry and armor, and special operations forces are being shaped by technology.
This impressive work deserves the widest audience and a place on the bookself of layman and historian alike.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive synthesis March 25, 2002
Reading this book you will not become an expert on the art of war of precise historical periods. Nor will you become an outstanding theorist on the art of war itself. But you will have a more complete and detailed understanding of what characterizes the successive eras of warfare and how the art of war changed and evolved in the western world. More than that only, you will understand the succession of factors and the dynamics that determined warfare in the western world. This author uses many notions, concepts and analysis created by other writers before him, which gives a very thourough insight on that subject. If only I knew that a few years ago, I would have bought this book as the beginning of my personal study of warfare. I am not a native english speaking person, but yes, even myself, I noticed that his language is sometimes far from literary norms. Since it is a very "technical" book, simplicity in sentence construction is actually a positive point in this work... which remains very clear even though the subject is a pretty complex one.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars major reflection on war along history. Breathtaking. September 21, 1999
By A Customer
This book is the reflection work of someone with tremendous experience and scholar knwoledge; the kind of work that cannot be done if you don't have years of dedication behind you. The description and evaluation of technological changes and its effect in military conflict is magistral and magisterial. Is not an easy book to read, as a cheap novel; it is far more than that. The depth, clarity an intellectural richness of this major opus is simply enthralling. The capabilities of description of the problems and their evolution and of the solutions to them as a continuum along history are very impresive really. To me this is one of the most rich and challenging books I have gone through ever. Unfortunately, and perhaps, alas!, ominously this wonderful work of science and art is impossible to be bought in Britain.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive July 6, 2002
By Virgil
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Archer Jones attempts to cover over 2000 years on the history of warfare in the West. And what a fantastic effort he gives. In what may be the best general military history ever written he gives a panoramic sweep of the art of warfare through the centuries. From Jone's coverage of Philip of Macedon's phalanxes to Moshe Doyan's IDF this is an impressive work.
Jones covers it in an excellent and clear writing style. He shows that the development of warfare was both evolutionary and revolutionary. Different weapons systems in the offense or defense give rise to counter systems and so on. Weapons change but successful strategies, operations and tactics still maintain essential "philosophies".
Encyclopedic in its breadth, The Art or War in the Western World is enjoyable reading for those with a serious interest in military history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Physical Quality.
This review isn't for the contents of the book but for the book itself. Upon receiving this book it appeared to be a solid book and I was please with it because it felt like it was... Read more
Published 13 months ago by AL1992
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This is one of my favorite books, ever. It has so many interesting tidbits that are woven together to support the main themes. Read more
Published on April 8, 2012 by M. Murphy
1.0 out of 5 stars Good Reading For POWs With Nothing Better To Do, I Guess
The Art of War in The Western World, Archer Jones; Barnes & Nobles Books (1987, Board of Trustees, University of IL)

Partially read years ago, the margin comments facing... Read more
Published on May 23, 2011 by Don Reed
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book.
This book is well written and contains many maps that illustrate many famous battles. Very thorough and engaging.
Published on September 17, 2010 by Richard A. Sierra
5.0 out of 5 stars for the expert on warfare
This well written, tightly written tome is 716 very long pages long. It is the history of the logistics, tactics, and strategy of war from the ancient Greeks until the 1980's. Read more
Published on February 2, 2010 by Kenneth R. Wurtz
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative....
I recieved the book quickly and it was in very good shape. The book itself is interesting and informative. It helped enormously in my Conflict in the World and all my essays. Read more
Published on November 12, 2009 by L. Merrick
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Single Volume on the Subject
Simply stated, this is the best single volume treatment of the subject. Although the book is long, it does not drag because of Jones' clear narrative style and effective... Read more
Published on September 29, 2007 by John F. Daniel
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent tactics over the centuries remain validated.
Archer Jones describes 4 different formations that interlink in many different ways. These formations remain valid from the 1st century to the 21st! Read more
Published on February 2, 1997
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