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The Oxford Companion to Military History Hardcover – August 2, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1072 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1ST edition (August 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198662092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198662099
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.7 x 2.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,021,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Since there is no end to this planet's being plagued by wars, there is concomitantly no end to books on military history. The latest addition to the publisher's illustrious "Companion" series is this elegantly edited volume of essays covering people, places, and all things military since the beginning of recorded time when, it seems, wars also began. Holmes (military and security studies, Cranfield Univ. and the British Royal Military Coll. of Science) has obtained the talents of nearly 150 other prominent military historians in crafting more than 1300 entries relating to battles, generals, weapons, diplomats, military theorists, and nearly every other conceivable nuance generated by our incessant need for armed conflict. Excellent maps accompany entries about specific battles, and most entries conclude with a short, useful bibliography. One may quibble now and then about the sources recommended for further reading why, for example, is there no mention of Donald Smythe's Guerrilla Warrior (o.p.), an outstanding biography of John J. Pershing? but all in all this is a reference tool of remarkable quality. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries. Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Holmes is professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science. He has presented two popular BBC Television series on military history and authored six monographs on the subject.

Although this reference work surveys all military services from ancient to modern time periods, it emphasizes land warfare in Europe and North America from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. It contains approximately 1,300 entries arranged in an A-Z format written by some 148 contributors from Great Britain, Europe, and North America. There are 31 feature articles of two or more pages on topics such as Artillery, Infantry, Logistics, Peacekeeping, Tactics, and Women in the military. Appropriately placed throughout the text are 70 black-and-white maps and 15 black-and-white illustrations. Entries are cross-referenced and signed, and many contain a short bibliography of one to five items at the end.

There are numerous single-volume reference tools with coverage similar to that of The Oxford Companion to Military History. One recent example is Cowley's Readers Companion to Military History (Houghton Mifflin, 1996), which has more than 600 entries, 40 maps, and 89 black-and-white illustrations. All entries are signed, and most have short bibliographies. Holmes compares favorably with Cowley, with more entries and maps but fewer illustrations. The Oxford Companion to Military History should be considered by high-school, public, and academic libraries that need a convenient military history guide. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a writer, I am often interested in selecting a military example for a point I am making about business. Invariably, I have a hard time locating the facts to see if the examples I have in mind work for my purposes. Weeks of fruitless research have often followed from wanting a fairly minor example. Then, in editing, much rewriting occurs because the details were slightly off in the draft. With the Oxford Companion to Military History, those problems are now all behind me.
I began my investigation of the book by checking out every military history question I could ever remember having had for my writing. Sure enough, this volume contained enough information to have answered each and every one of my questions more than adquately. That was very impressive to me, and it made me decide to add this volume to my reference library. One of the many nice features of this book is that each listing also refers to the best full-length works on that subject, for those who want to get a lot of detail.
The book has more than 1300 entries, written by more than 150 specialists in these military subjects. The subjects are elaborated on by more than 70 detailed maps and 15 pages of diagrams. Each entry is in alphabetical order, with cross-references to more general and more specific topics.
The book focuses on land warfare, so air and naval warfare are in the book primarily to round out the picture on land. So you will find Billy Mitchell, but not the air raids on Ploesti during World War II.
As the editor points out, "There are dictionaries of battles, of military leaders, and even of military history. This is none of those things, although, in its way, it subsumes them all.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By James J. Bloom on September 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just received this book, and have skimmed to locate items in my particular field of interest -- I am a military historian for fun and (very little) profit.
As I peruse favorite topics, I find it quite impressive. It's pretty comprehensive considering it has to include some trendy topics such as gender and war, as well as more traditional subjects such as battles, campaigns & leaders. There are a number of surprisingly complete and helpful articles on more obscure battles (most run about 300-600 words) and good overviews on campaigns and wars. The length of each essay, or blurb seems appopriate to the complexity or importance of the particular topic.
Comparisons with other compendia are appropriate. Brassey's published a two-volume encyclopedia of military knowledge in the mid-90s, each containing about 1200 pages, the first covering biography and history, the second military theory, concepts and weapons systems. The Trevor Dupuy "Encyclopedia of Military History", whose fourth edition appeared in 1993, is set up in a chronological and geographical scheme and runs over 1600 pages. At 1048 pages the Oxford Companion embraces the themes contained in all those volumes plus sociological matters, literature, journalism, humor, and pop cultural topics.
An impressive group of contributors, all prominent in their specialties, provide ample information both for the novice and the professional wishing to jog his or her memory. Sidebar treatments (some running several pages) on Artillery, armored warfare, airpower, seapower,uniforms, rank and insignia, signals, etc. are very handy reviews of these topics.
I have a few quibbles with the suggestions for further reading.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Lindner on June 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is very thorough for the type of history it covers, but it has biases that detract it from receiving the highest rating.

Students from high school to college will find background information in this volume that will assist them in their research papers and projects, but serius military historians will be somewhat disappointed. The book covers very well modern, Western conflicts and personalities. The US Civil War, World Wars One and Two, Western European warfare, and major conflicts from around the world are all accounted for. What is lacking are some of the more unfamiliar conflicts such as biblical battles and African and Asian warfare from pre-Western contact. These pro-Western biases do not detract greatly from the book, but do make an impact.

Otherwise the efforts in the book are outstanding. A wide variety of scholars contributed and each knows their subject well. This book will inevitably need to be revised as we move into the 21st century (it was published prior to the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars) but such is the nature of history.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Karl Clausewitz on March 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a real encyclopedia of war. Includes many aspect of war that never shown in other books, and cross-references for everything. Still, I wish Holmes added time line of history so that the book can be more usefull.

I think this book is a standard companion for every home. Useful for everyone.
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