Customer Reviews: War Made New: Weapons, Warriors, and the Making of the Modern World
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on July 11, 2009
There are many factors which combine to determine the outcomes of battles, some within man's control and others such as blind luck and the ineluctable fog of war residing firmly in the realm of fate. But to many, and for a large number of Americans particularly, the impact of technology has a special resonance in their imaginations. Max Boot's War Made New is a good, popular history of the impact of several technological revolutions in weaponry on the battlefield. Although over 500 pages long, it is not an exhaustive or comprehensive history. Instead it is an anthology of several battles for each of his identified revolutions, all occurring within the "modern" era of warfare defined from around the Renaissance forward.

Perhaps the two best features of this book are the caution with which Mr. Boot approaches the subject and the accessibility he gives it to readers not steeped in military history. War is a very complex and adaptive thing, a chameleon in Karl von Clausewitz's description. No two are alike, and the comparative impact of technology in each is unique, variable, and dependent on other factors which change with each new conflict in unpredictable ways. Mr. Boot thus prefaces his book with two fitting quotes to showcase the range of professional opinion on this fungible factor, one from the eccentric British Armor pioneer J.F.C. Fuller to the extent that technology is the exclusive determinant of battlefield success, the contrasting from Napoleon stating that it's impact is essentially non-existent.

The second very attractive feature of this book is that Mr. Boot is actually quite a good writer who truly makes history an interesting and quick read. His individual histories go into significant background matter to set up the battle, he delves into the bios of the major commanders on both sides, the political issues at stake, and the geography and terrain of the sites of the clashes. His accounts of the engagements themselves are raw, often exciting, and he performs a thorough after analysis action for each of his selected battles drawing out harsh lessons from the bloodshed and detritus.

Many have criticized what may at first glance seem like his eclectic selection of conflicts. This is perhaps understandable given the lack of representation of some major and politically important conflicts, Korea and Vietnam in particular being mentioned. However the author's purpose is to explore the slim slice of battles in which generally technology played a dominant role, and more particularly in which one side was pioneering or had mastered one of his identified revolutions in military technology while the other side was about to pay the price for its failure to adapt. Vietnam, although politically more important to America than many of the battles he showcases, was one in which the enemy fought successfully in a manner that nullified the impact of technology on the overall outcome of the war.

Mr. Boot summarizes his book with a preview of possible military revolutions to come and a recap of the lessons which have appeared repeatedly in his individual battle histories. Namely the constant changing of the technology of war, but a pace of change that is anything but, coming in fits and starts here and in giant and rapid bursts of innovation there. The unpredictability of when military revolutions will occur. The importance of mastering not just the technology behind them but the necessity of developing supporting tactics, training, doctrine, personnel policies, etc. to make the whole apparatus of war work in concert to deliver battlefield results. And perhaps most importantly the way military revolutions have restructured the geopolitical order in the past, leaving nations which did not adapt, often regardless of their previous size and power, on the decline, and smaller powers which did adapt the new masters of their domain.

All in all a recommended, but popular and not academic, book on technology in war which draws what appear to be very reasonable and illuminating conclusions.
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on May 20, 2016
One of the best books on what it means to transform a military force, and the Revolution in Military Affairs that comes which it, as well as what this term actually means. Would recommend it as compulsory reading for decision makes in strategic echelons of military organisations, and the industry.
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on September 3, 2007
Max manages to well capture the balance between seeing the forest at the same time as the trees. Further, by extrapolation, he offers insight as to what the forest will look like in the future. I thought the book was excellent, and should be good reading for any military officer. I am a retired military officer, and have seen all the changes from the middle of the Cold War to Gulf War II. It's a completely different ball game, and Max covers it well. {To the detractors; all books have factual errors. Look to the forest, not the trees, or you miss the point of the book.)
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on August 10, 2013
This is a wonderful book. I have read it from cover to the last page in a sitting, enjoying its descritions and its reasoning. It shows the urgent need of steady adaptation to changing environment (human and natural) conditions, and the disasters that appear when we try to keep old ways of actuation. Read it and enjoy!
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on October 31, 2013
This book is an intriguing look at points of history where large leaps were made in the conduct of war. At this, it is a definite success. I think the best part is the way that it compares and contrasts countries with similar technological capabilities that somehow had various levels of success on the battlefield. As the author points out, technological superiority is no guarantor of victory. For students of history, politics, and professional warriors, this book is an excellent guide to the intricate balance that makes an army great and strengthens a nation.

The sole gripe is that Mr. Pressfield can be unduly verbose. There are times where he hits an angle several times before moving on. Overall, though, this is a minor issue, and does not detract from the book's value.
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on September 27, 2014
If you are a military history buff, or fan of Max Boot's other works, you won’t be disappointed. Like his other books this is a detailed and technical work, and not for someone looking for a light survey. Boot once again takes a concept and shows how themes play out and repeat across centuries, technologies, and cultures.
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on October 14, 2009
The main reason why this book is important is simply that there is a basis for all of injustice in warfare in the world today and before. It is important to realize that everything changes, and because not so much of a pivotal invention or technique, but a single thought pattern and innovation to utilize these techniques and inventions would be the game changer in almost every major or minor conflict since the 14th and 15th century. In many conflicts the smaller, and very often physically weaker adversary overcame the opposition in a largely compelling way, on thier way to victory. Every example in this book illustrated that bigger is not better, in fact the larger one became, the more entrenched they had become in maintaining thier status quo, and subsequently more and more unwieldly as time progresses. In the end, those that are able to change and innovate will continue to dominate, regardless of size, and in many ways some cultures have become victims of thier own sucesses and excesses. It is important to recognize this idea and fact. Whomever was the adversary last week is not going to be the adversary next week. And the folks next week, in the information age will have learned from the people last week.
Warfare like all other manifestations of mankind's idiosyncrasies will continue to evolve and grow. And until we evolve away from fighting one another, then we must evolve the fight.
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on July 17, 2013
One a handful of best history books I've ever read. Incredible portfolio of the last half-millenium of world history through the prism of war, based on advance of technology, bureaucratic organization, training, leadership and societies; and how all changed the nations of the world.
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on March 5, 2011
This book shows how innovation in war has changed history. Max Boot is a great writer and I highly recommend this book if you want to understand how innovation in war has change our lives after a particular battle or war.
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on April 3, 2014
I was really looking forward to getting hunkered down with the book with its promise of vast spans of time identifying the locus of technological change that makes for revolutions in warfare.

I was more than a little disappointed.

Boot did not hold my interest because of the following:

1) Everything Boot writes has been covered by countless historians before and much better. If you have read about major wars and battles from ancient to modern, you will be familiar with many of the themes and facts Boot raises to buttress his central exposition of revolutionary change in warfare. You will find most of the points rather common fayre in other books written far more beautifully. eg. John Keegan, AJP Taylor, even good 'ol Sir Edward Creasy covers a lot of the military and poltico elements covered in this overly massive and, at times banal, tome.

2) The length of the book is way too long. A good editor could have cut about 1/2 of the book out and it would not have affected what Boot wants to say, but it would have improved flow and heightened my interest. Boot repeats points endlessly and assumes almost no knowledge of the history he relates. This may be good for someone who wanders by the shelf looking for a different read, but if you read mainly history you would be better off spending your time on other reads. And that is the point... someone who does not read military history is extremely unlikely to pick up this book.

At the end of the day I felt that I was not learning anything new. The level of the analysis was not up to snuff. I felt he violated my sense of efficiency by endless repetition. It was too much like being really hungry seeing a potential feast only to discover the taste was just too bland - eventually you eat until the appetite is gone... but you do not overeat.. At 300 pages I bagged the book and moved on to other more interesting stuff. .

I fear that this has turned me off Boot totally. I see his massive tomes on other subjects... but I do not think I will venture between his pages again.
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