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The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050 Hardcover – August 27, 2001

3.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Dynamics of Military Revolution brings a much needed historical perspective to the current debate about the 'revolution in military affairs.' The future of military force is not simply about technology, but rather about the concepts and doctrine that utilize technology to achieve larger purposes. That is precisely the focus of this challenging and thoughtful book."
-Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

"This is an important little book. It deserves to be widely read."
-The Washington Times

"This provocative book is a welcome addition to the literature on military innovation that is well recommended to those with any interest in the ongoing debate about U.S. force transformation."
-Air Power History

"The separate chapters contain some of the best examples of analytical history available...a first-class work that should be on every professional's reading list."
-Air & Space Power Journal

"...highly readable, impecably researched, and academically of the first order... the book provides some interesting insights in discussions..."
-Mark O'Hare, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society

"...provocative findings and the book's case studies provide a needed context for current debates...these essays provide needed context for understanding the dynamics of military change..."
-H-Net Reviews

"This book masterfully presents the most current and profound thinking on the subject of revolutions in military affairs. More importantly, it does so from an historical context that provides the foundation for the continuing dialogue needed to educate our nation's civilian and military leaders as they address possible future revolutions in military affairs."
-Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, USMC (ret.)

"Dynamics of Military Revolution is certain to be viewed as the standard work. This well-edited collection of scintillating case studies shows us how history can and should be used to test important ideas."
-Colin S. Gray, University of Reading

"...reading The Dynamics of Military Revolution is well worth the time invested."
-Parameters

"Whether one agrees with the editor's assessment or not, The Dynamics of Military Revolution will reward historians and military professionals alike. This book belongs on the reading lists of officers from all four services."
-Miltary Review

"The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050...is a thought-provoking examination of critical military history. It provides prerequisite knowledge for understanding the true nature of RMAs and possible pitfalsl for the future U.S. military."
-Special Warfare

Book Description

The Dynamics of Military Revolution suggests that there have been two very different phenomena at work over the past centuries: 'military revolutions', which are driven by vast social and poltical changes; and 'revolutions in military affairs,' which military institutions have directed. By providing both a conceptual framework and a historical context for thinking about revolutionary changes in military affairs, the work establishes a baseline for understanding the patterns of change, innovation, and adaptation that have marked war in the Western world since the thirteenth century.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 203 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (August 27, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052180079X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521800792
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAME on October 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the only serious book I have been able to find that addresses revolutions in military affairs with useful case studies, a specific focus on whether asymmetric advantages do or do not result, and a very satisfactory executive conclusion. This book is strongly recommended for both military professionals, and the executive and congressional authorities who persist in sharing the fiction that technology is of itself an asymmetric advantage.

It merits emphasis that the author's first conclusion, spanning a diversity of case studies, is that technology may be a catalyst but it rarely drives a revolution in military affairs--concepts are revolutionary, it is ideas that break out of the box.

Their second conclusion is both counter-intuitive (but based on case studies) and in perfect alignment with Peter Drucker's conclusions on successful entrepreneurship: the best revolutions are incremental (evolutionary) and based on solutions to actual opponents and actual conditions, rather than hypothetical and delusional scenarios of what we think the future will bring us. In this the authors mesh well with Andrew Gordon's masterpiece on the rules of the game and Jutland: we may be best drawing down on our investments in peacetime, emphasizing the education of our future warfighters, and then be prepared for massive rapid agile investments in scaling up experimental initiatives as they prove successful in actual battle.

The book is noteworthy for its assault on fictional scenarios and its emphasis on realism in planning--especially valuable is the authors' staunch insistence that only honesty, open discussion among all ranks, and the wide dissemination of lessons learned, will lead to improvements.
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Format: Hardcover
This book contains an awful lot of wisdom for such a slim volume (it clocks in at just under 200 pages).
The authors examine the natures of military revolutions and RMA (a very hot topic that has arguably produced more hot air than substance) and provide a number of case studies examining the issues and testing the authors' views through history.
The case studies are;
- The English in the 14th century
- 17th century France
- The French Revolution
- The American Civil War
- The Prussian RMA, 1840-1871
- The Battlefleet Revolution
- The First World War
- Blitzkrieg 1940
The various case studies are backed up by an extremely satisfying introduction and a thorough, well argued conclusion which fires one or two shots across the bows of those residents of the Pentagon who may be suffering from technology-centric tunnel vision. The authors (very distinguished bunch, it should be said) warn against the idea that Clausewitzian truths regarding such issues as friction can be discounted thanks to the wonders of technology and indeed make clear that they are as important as ever.
The various case studies work extremely well as concise stand-alone works on their various historical periods, even if RMA is not your hot topic. Especially good are the chapters on the English in the 14th century and on the Battlefleet Revolution (and the inner workings of the Imperial German Navy and the Royal Navy during this period).
This is a well written, interesting book which should annoy all the right people.
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By M. Rey on December 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you want to learn about military revolutions, revolutions in military affairs. If you want to understand and/or learn about military history, this book will help you understand it.

I have enjoyed reading it.
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Format: Hardcover
... a book that is both required reading AND interesting!

The Dynamics of Military Revolution looks at the evolution of military power and does it very well. This book looks at Military Revolutions (which had wide-ranging impacts on social and political matters as well as military) and Revolutions in Military Affairs (which are characterized by new weapons, tactics and other military innovations and which can contribute to Military Revolutions).

If you're looking for a theory that explains why new weapons systems aren't always revolutionary, or how something as simple as paying your troops for a change can result in a major shift in military power, then this is a book you want to read. It includes a lot of good writing and the reasoning behind it is impeccable. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.
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Format: Hardcover
This book presents a series of chapters describing military change through different key periods in military history. Every chapter is well written, scholarly, and unified by the common theme that technology does not reshape the human experience of warfare. New concepts do that.

The ideas discussed here are timeless in nature. It does not matter the latest developments in radar imagery or missile precision or ballistic sunglasses or guns that shoot around corners. The role of strategy is to operationalize political-social goals. Technology interacts with the strategic process, but does not drive it. Most importantly, technology does not provide simple answers to complex questions.

Of course, technology is hugely significant. Investment in R&D counts. The lesson here is that tech is not a panacea. You still need smart thinkers to solve complex, real-world problems.

This book is required reading for mid-grade military officers as they move towards operational and strategic level assignments, as it well should be. It is a key starting point for any mature discussion of the future of war.

Contrary to some reviews, this book is anything but a snore-fest. In addition to being insightful, rigorous, and thought provoking, it actually is a pretty fun read. Each chapter is about 20 to 25 pages and deals with lessons learned from a specific slice of history. You can blow through a chapter in a half hour. No need to read them in order.
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