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International Relations War
by
Cathal Nolan
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 July 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 February 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0049

Introduction

Modern war is often defined as armed conflict within, between, or among states, although other political communities partake of war: ethnic and religious groups, ideological movements, terrorist organizations, large drug gangs, and other “non-state actors.” The narrowest meaning used by historians is war as the art and science and record of military operations. More general discourse sub-classifies war according to an ascending scale of participation—rebellion, insurrection, insurgency, guerrilla war, civil war, and regional war—culminating in three synonyms for armed conflict at the largest scale: systemic war, global war, and world war. War is also categorized by the types of weapons used to conduct it, as in the terms “conventional war” and “unconventional war.” A controversial distinction is made between limited war and total war, in which wars are typed by scope, the declared or discerned objectives of participants, and the degree to which militaries target civilians, enemy morale, or economic infrastructure. Social science literature defines a minimal threshold of mass political violence as war, as opposed to riot or other communal use of force, if deaths reach one thousand. That is an arbitrary definition, not universally accepted or normally employed by historians.

General Overviews

General literature on war can be split into two types: classic works that any serious student of war must know, and contemporary works written during the 20th century. Each category may be subdivided into theory and works seeking a more empirical understanding. Classic works focused on optimum strategies and obstacles to operations in a given time and place. A few from greatly varied times and locales produced traditions of strategic thought that retain influence. Eminent 20th-century military historians wrote new histories of war discrete from the rise and decline of civilizations. Some recent histories are theoretical rather than straightforwardly narrative. Post–World War II social science compiled systematic statistical surveys of wars, then identified “correlations” within datasets. Raw quantitative compilations were well-received at first, but theoretical work to which they gave rise is not seen as adequate. Efforts to identify general laws and erect predictive “models” of war and peace dominate the agenda of social sciences still.

Classic Works

The most important classic texts informing strategy were written by Sun Tzu (6th century BCE), Niccolò Machiavelli (1520), and Karl von Clausewitz (1832). Sun Tzu’s work was not of practical use even to Chinese armies of his own day, but it was unchallenged for centuries as a handbook of epigrammatic strategic and military wisdom (see Sun Tzu 1963). Machiavelli’s writing on the twinned arts of diplomacy and war captured a transformation of the social and economic basis of military power that underlay the emerging modern state and age. He is still read for his core disregard of discourse on Just War theory in favor of the interest of secular power (see Machiavelli 2005). Clausewitz dominates all modern literature. He is admired for understanding war in its essentials without losing sight of its complexity, although there is much self-contradiction and incomplete theorizing in his works (see Clausewitz 2007). Less respected or cited today, but historically important and influential in earlier periods, are works by the theorist Antoine-Henri Jomini (Jomini 1977 and Jomini 1811–1816). Hans Delbrück (Delbrück 1990, originally published 1900–1920) was among the first to attempt a general history of war. Much of his historical work has been surpassed or contradicted by modern research, but he remains important in the historiography and also the literature (in cultural sense) on war.

  • Clausewitz, Karl von. On War. Translated by Beatrice Heuser. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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    First published in 1832 as Vom Kriege, influenced all later writing; launched subfield of strategic studies. Attempted systematic study of essentials of war, viewed as “paradoxical trinity”: violence, chance, rational purpose vis-à-vis means and goals. First English edition: On War, edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976). German edition: Vom Kriege (Bonn, Germany: Dümmlers Verlag, 1980).

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  • Delbrück, Hans. History of the Art of War. 4 vols. Translated by Walter J. Renfroe Jr. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.

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    Tactical/logistical analysis classical texts replace heroic accounts. Weaker on medieval period, especially on knightly cavalry. German history surpassed, yet retains insight. Deemphasized “decisive battle” versus attrition in modern war. Social and technological changes. Originally published in 7 volumes as Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politischen Geschichte (Berlin: G. Stilke, 1900–1920).

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  • Earle, Edward Mead, Gordon A. Craig, and Felix Gilbert, eds. Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1948.

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    Survey of early modern and modern strategic thought; focus is mainly on Europe; not entirely superseded by new edition edited by Peter Paret.

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  • Jomini, Antoine-Henri. Traité de grande tactique. 4 vols. Paris: Magimel, 1811–1816.

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    Universalizes conclusions drawn in fact from Napoleonic practice. Lofty abstractions abound. Available in English as Treatise on Grand Military Operations, 5 vols., various editions.

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  • Jomini, Antoine-Henri. Précis de l’art de la guerre. Paris: Editions Champ Libre, 1977.

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    Abstracts war from social context; focus on “genius.” No interest in military-society relations or soldiery. Asserts timeless, “scientific” understanding. Widely read by professional military in 19th century. English edition: The Art of War, translated by G. H. Mendell and W. P. Craighill (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1971). Reprinted in 2007 (Mineola, NY: Dover).

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  • Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Art of War. Translated and annotated by Christopher Lynch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

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    First to rediscover military virtues of Greco-Roman world. Argues for restoration of drill, discipline, citizen militia; disdains condottieri (mercenaries of the Italian Renaissance) as politically unreliable. Emphasizes professional officer corps, strict chain of command, inculcation of republican civic and martial spirit.

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  • Paret, Peter, ed. The Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.

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    Outstanding collection of twenty-eight essays on origins, nature, and conduct of war and strategic thought. Covers early modern to late 20th century, virtually all major thinkers on land, air, or naval warfare, several key national strategic traditions. Thematic essays on political leadership, conventional, nuclear, and revolutionary war.

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  • Sun Tzu. The Art of War. Translated by Samuel B. Griffith. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963.

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    Sixth-century BCE Chinese war manual. Foreword by B. H. Liddell Hart. Argues that political victory without battle is supreme strategic achievement; important for principle of conservation of force. Short collection of maxims still widely consulted on psychological and political elements of strategy.

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Contemporary Works

Some recent histories proclaim a culturally unique and superior “Western way of war.” Hanson 2001 is usually criticized for ahistoricism on that score, as is Keegan 1993. Black 1998 and other histories are instead global in scope and coverage, recording national military traditions rather than a unitary or linear world history. Howard 1975 is representative of joint efforts by historians and strategic theorists to arrive at a common understanding. That effort to blend history and strategic thought remains a major approach in the field. Quincy Wright broke fresh ground by seeking a universal empirical basis for general statements about war (see Wright 1983). More radically quantitative social science methodologies produced “datasets” that were universal only by research design and authorial assertion. J. David Singer and disciples of the Correlates of War project compiled an enormous statistical and theoretical literature for which they claimed a unique scientific status and objectivity (see Singer and Diehl 1990). The claim is not widely accepted outside political science.

  • Black, Jeremy. War and the World: Military Power and the Fate of Continents, 1450–2000. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.

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    Compact yet sweeping survey of five hundred years of world military history by preeminent, prolific military historian. Discusses all aspects of modern war on air, land, and sea. Written as course text but can be read as general history.

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  • Dower, John. Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9–11, Iraq. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010.

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    Comparative analysis of historical and contemporary cases, with a core theme of wishful thinking and self-delusion as a recurring characteristic of modern warfare across cultures. Cherry picking of cases of self-delusion by policymakers and constant polemical and partisan judgments weaken the scholarship. Three parts are included: “Wars of Choice” (Pearl Harbor and Iraq), “Terror and Mass Destruction” (Hiroshima and 9-11, with heavy emphasis on the first), and “War and Occupation in Japan and Iraq.”

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  • Grayling, Anthony C. War: An Enquiry. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.

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    A British philosopher considers the ethics of war, which he sees as capable of being transcended because it is rooted not in a permanent human nature but in changeable social institutions (culture). Runs the gamut from ancient wars to European medieval, Renaissance, and modern wars. Unlike most philosophers, the author is unafraid to opine on technology, tactics, strategy, classical war theory, just war theory, and international relations (IR) theory. Concludes with impassioned argument for pacifism and achievable altruism.

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  • Hanson, Victor Davis. Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power. New York: Doubleday, 2001.

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    West has uniquely lethal, linear military culture, rooted in social organization and ideas about citizen’s relationship to state. Illustrates with accounts of nine battles, classical to modern. Oft criticized for cherry-picking historical record; major errors of fact or interpretation; presumption of linear tradition that leaps over Middle Ages.

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  • Hintze, Otto. “Military Organization and the Organization of States.” In The Historical Essays of Otto Hintze. Edited by Felix Gilbert, 178–215. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.

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    A key essay on the nature of military institutions and the character of modern war by a historian who changed historiography of war by exploring economic and military history in union with intellectual, political, constitutional, and institutional history. First published in 1906 as “Staatsverfassung und Heeresverfassung.”

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  • Howard, Michael, ed. Theory and Practice of War. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975.

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    Fifteen essays on 19th-century strategic thought; effect of ideas of Jomini and Clausewitz; role of nationalism, technology, industrialization on modern war; mid-20th-century grand strategy; Soviet and American military traditions and doctrine; impact of nuclear weapons; influence on field of Basil Liddell Hart.

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  • Keegan, John. A History of Warfare. 4th ed. New York: Vintage, 1993.

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    Ambitious overview of 4,000 years of warfare from ancient world through 20th century. Thematic organization and insistent generalization and universalism often critiqued. Studies ethos of warriors Keegan admires, more than any theory or history of war.

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  • Nolan, Cathal J. The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

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    Interpretive history arguing against “decisive battles” as the determinants of most modern wars, or long wars that arise from the allure of the short-war delusion that battle and cleverness can overcome deep strategic disadvantages. Argues instead for the role of logistics, social and moral mobilization, and endurance of defeat due to strategic depth. Subthemes include a rejection of the role of “genius” commanders as decisive actors, and an emphasis on defensive over offensive strategies as more often victorious. Well reviewed.

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  • Paret, Peter. “The History of War.” Daedalus 100 (Spring 1971): 376–396.

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    Superb short introduction written with author’s usual concise insight.

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  • Singer, J. David, and Paul Diehl, eds. Measuring the Correlates of War. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990.

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    Reprint of major articles generated by Correlates of War statistical studies at University of Michigan. Details “operational measures of various concepts such as systemic polarity and national capability.” Densely written. Concerned with issues of measurement and methodology as much as phenomenon of war. Scientistic bent.

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  • Willmott, H. P., and Michael B. Barrett. Clausewitz Reconsidered. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2010.

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    Attempts to apply Clausewitz to modern and historical eras, from the founding of the Westphalian state and legal system to his own period, to modern total war (oddly described as continuing to 1975), to naval and air power. Includes chapters on the Cold War, Douhet’s theories, post–Cold War conflicts, and others. Tries to reconcile contradictions in Clausewitz’s distinction between “real war” and “absolute war.” Idiosyncratic, but stimulating.

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  • Wright, Quincy. A Study of War. 2 vols. 2d ed. Edited by Louise Leonard Wright. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

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    Groundbreaking social science study begun in 1926 and first published in 1942. Seeks to rigorously define war; war in contexts of sovereignty, cultural diversity; war as predictable phenomenon; theories on prevention of war. Praised as systematic and newly realistic; criticized for abstraction.

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Textbooks

Broad courses on war may employ a text such as Black 1998, which surveys military history over the past five hundred years. Other courses will prefer the two-volume Black 2001 and Black 2002, a more regionally confined work. Doughty, et al. 1996 is an outstanding narrative history by a team of military historians from West Point. It is clear, sound, and well-received by students. Morillo, et al. 2008 is a more modern textbook in all senses: full of colorful charts and insets, scant on detail, overly sweeping in coverage, and perhaps too driven by current academic and market fashion. In all cases, such texts should be supplemented by less grandiose selections such as a combat memoir, a work of historical fiction, or some other close account of men in battle that helps students locate a human context for more abstract study of grand strategy, institutional evolution, and military technology. A useful book on that score is the keenly written Keegan 1976. Alternately, Freedman 1994 is a well-chosen, blended anthology of primary source readings, commentary, and analysis. The Murray, et al. 1994 collection of essays is most appropriate for advanced courses. Townshend 2000 is an anthology that is useful as a supplemental text at all levels.

  • Black, Jeremy. War and the World: Military Power and the Fate of Continents, 1450–2000. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.

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    Compact yet sweeping course book organized by century; also readable as general history. Discusses all aspects of modern war on air, land, and sea. Some illustrations but lacks adequate maps. No bibliography but well-sourced endnotes.

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  • Black, Jeremy. Warfare in the Western World, 1882–1975. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

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    Volume 1 of two (see Black 2002). American Revolution; Napoleonic Wars; naval warfare; American Civil War. These are short companion volumes with British imperial and European focus. Introductory only.

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  • Black, Jeremy. Western Warfare, 1775–1882. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.

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    Volume 2 of two (see Black 2001). Colonial wars of late imperial expansion; the world wars; post-1945 retreat from overseas empires. These are short companion volumes with British imperial and European focus. Introductory only.

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  • Doughty, Robert, Ira Gruber, Roy Flint, Mark Grimsley, and Mark Herring. Warfare in the Western World. 2 vols. Lexington, MA: Heath, 1996.

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    Well-written, comprehensive, authoritative narrative. Major concepts, events, leaders, strategies. Vol. 1, Military Operations from 1600 to 1871, covers limited wars, 17th–18th centuries; nation in arms; French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars; 19th-century trends, organization, finance; American Civil War. Vol. 2, Military operations since 1871, covers world wars; total war; nuclear era: Korea, Vietnam, Middle East.

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  • Freedman, Lawrence, ed. War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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    Selected readings on the experience of war from the Napoleonic period through the Falklands war; causes of war; military establishment; ethics and war; strategy.

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  • Keegan, John. The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme. New York: Viking, 1976.

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    Pathbreaking close study of three famous battles; highlights ground-level, personal experience of combat; expanding scale of modern warfare. Heavy prologue may be usefully skipped. Not a textbook but often used as a supplemental reading of real value.

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  • Morillo, Stephen, Jeremy Black, and Paul Lococo. War in World History: Society, Technology, and War from Ancient Times to the Present. 2 vols. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

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    Written for “world history” more than for military history courses. Thematic organization around political institutions, social and economic contexts, role of varying cultures. Usual paraphernalia of textbooks: graphs, charts, insets. Volume 1 covers 2000 BCE through 1500 CE. Volume 2 covers last five hundred years of putative “dawn of global warfare.”

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  • Murray, Williamson, MacGregor Knox, and Alvin Bernstein, eds. The Making of Strategy: Rulers, States, and War. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

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    Nineteen essays by prominent scholars on making of military strategy, not speculation about which strategy is theoretically optimal. Covers discrete topics in history of strategy from classical Greece and Rome, early modern China, and Europe. Comprehensive coverage of major military powers of the 19th and 20th centuries. For advanced courses.

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  • Townshend, Charles, ed. The Oxford History of Modern War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    Eighteen short essays on war from mid-17th century to end of 20th century. Narrative comprises first half, through World War II. Thematic second half: technology; battle; air, land, sea warfare; social impacts; women and war; pacifist arguments. Concise bibliography. No illustrations or maps. Companion piece, not main text.

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Reference Works

An older style of reference on war is Eggenberger 1967, a compilation of short descriptions of over 1,500 battles from antiquity to the mid-20th century. Comparable works provide short military biographies as well as battle summaries. The Oxford University Press Companion series (Holmes 2003) is well-established across global history and national military history lines. It maintains high scholarly standards and aspires to be universal but in fact concentrates most heavily on modern military history. Its real strength is presenting “new military history” that goes beyond battle to social and institutional concerns. Dear and Foot 1995 is a multi-authored reference with entries ranging from short paragraphs to lengthy topical essays. It is overweighted in coverage of Britain’s war and underweighted on the eastern front, but it still has many excellent essays as well as maps, charts, and statistical graphs. Nolan 2006 and Nolan 2008 are single-author period works comprising short definitions and translations of technical and foreign-language terms, as well as longer essays. They are fully cross-referenced. Parker 1995 is a masterpiece of clear narrative writing and thoughtful, well-chosen illustrations.

  • Dear, I. C. B., and M. R. D. Foot, eds. The Oxford Companion to World War II. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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    Major reference work on World War II, compiled by many military, political, and diplomatic historians. Outstanding charts, maps, statistical summations. Not without factual error; heavy British and Commonwealth focus exaggerates role at expense of Soviet Union, especially. Solid on British and American intelligence, weak on Soviet.

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  • Eggenberger, David. Dictionary of Battles. New York: Crowell, 1967.

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    Ancient world to mid-20th century; paragraph or page-length summaries include dates, locales, and participants. Organized alphabetically. Nearly one hundred battle maps. New edition published as Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles, 1479 B.C. to the Present (New York: Dover, 1985).

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  • Holmes, Richard, ed. The Oxford Companion to Military History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    Clear, readable. Ancient world to end of 20th century, with more emphasis on modern wars from 18th to 20th centuries than title suggests. Strength is range of topics beyond battles or campaigns to include social and class issues, pay, food, disease, soldiers’ lives, and state finance. First-rate scholarship. Excellent maps.

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  • Nolan, Cathal J. The Age of Wars of Religion, 1000–1650: An Encyclopedia of Global Warfare and Civilization. 2 vols. Greenwood Encyclopedias of Modern World Wars. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006.

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    More than two thousand entries, from short definitions to multipage essays; global coverage of military technology of period; social and class relations; major confessional groups; theological disputes; political and military biographies; notable battles; crusades, jihads, and secular wars. Extensive bibliography, maps, index, detailed chronology of events.

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  • Nolan, Cathal J. Wars of the Age of Louis XIV, 1650–1715: An Encyclopedia of Global Warfare and Civilization. Greenwood Encyclopedias of Modern World Wars. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2008.

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    More than one thousand entries, from short definitions to multipage essays; 17th through early-18th-century warfare. Mostly Europe but some global coverage. Fortification and siege methods; weapons; emergence of battle versus siege; national political histories; military biography; discrete battles, campaigns, recruitment, war finance. Includes Northern wars and Ottoman wars. Bibliography, maps, index.

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  • Parker, Geoffrey, ed. The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare: The Triumph of the West. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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    Western military history from Greece and Rome to end of 20th century; essays by seven prominent historians on strategy, tactics, logistics, finance, military culture, fortification, industrialization, war at sea, civil wars, world wars, post-1945 conflicts. Maps, diagrams, pictures, rich illustrations. Excellent work.

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Bibliographies

The reference works listed elsewhere in this bibliography all contain useful bibliographies or suggested readings on specific topics. More specialized bibliographies are listed in this section. A strength of online works is that they can be kept up-to-date after first publication. However, an attending weakness is that some are not maintained or updated as they should be, while active links fall out of service. The Correlates of War Bibliographies is kept up-to-date as a comprehensive list of works deriving from the Correlates of War (COW) Project, but many of its citations are self-referencing commentary on methods and findings that do not engage any wider literature on war. The Journal of Military History is essential for tracking down articles published elsewhere, in addition to its own. Historical Journals On-Line is useful and even comprehensive on the American military but carries too many dead links. The US Army Command and General Staff College publishes several useful bibliographies, only one of which is cited here: Eiserman 1988. The others can be located on the Staff College website. H-War Discussion Network is an interactive bulletin board where bibliographic queries may be posted and answered or archives searched.

Journals

Some research on war is published in general international relations journals that otherwise are more often concerned with international economics, organizations, or diplomacy. The Journal of Military History is especially helpful in locating such articles, as it publishes lists of all articles on war appearing elsewhere. In addition, there are several specialized journals that regularly or exclusively publish on military affairs, military history, strategic thinking, military theory, and contemporary war. History journals such as the International History Review publish mainly on historical issues. Policy journals such as the Journal of Strategic Studies cover some history but concentrate on theory, contemporary issues, and ideas of future war. War in History and War & Society are broad-ranging across time and region, with greater emphasis on social context than on the role of military technology. The Journal of Military and Strategic Studies is published online only. Its relentless focus is current military and security policy debate.

Causes of War

Historians are far more comfortable discussing the causes of given wars than speculating about the general causes of war, a query they usually leave to political philosophers and political scientists. Anyone interested in the causes of a particular war must look to historical debates about the specific origins of that war. The works listed here are more general. Blainey 1988 is the single best introduction to the debate on general causation. Freedman 1994 is a wider anthology but has a compact section of eleven readings on the causes of war that are drawn from multiple disciplines and perspectives. In Doyle 1997 two leading modern international relations theorists, Michael Doyle and Kenneth Waltz, examine the ideas and debates of Western philosophers who asked “why war?” Waltz 2001 surveys major schools of thought about the causes of war in a short, accessible volume unmarred by the severe abstraction that characterizes much of the author’s later work. Michael Howard approaches the question not as a theorist but as a historian. In Howard 1983 and Howard 2008 he asks how classical liberalism and other modern political worldviews understood war and how understanding changed across time. Howard is a subtle and elegant historian who provides complex answers that will surprise most and shock some. Vasquez 1987 is included as a short introduction to, and a definitive summation of, the extreme quantitative position pursued in contemporary social science. It stands in stark contrast to more subtle and nuanced work. Albert Einstein’s correspondence with Sigmund Freud, Warum Krieg? is listed for the intellectual prominence of its authors and as an object lesson in how even the most intelligent non-specialists become befuddled when contemplating the general causes of war (see Einstein and Freud 1978).

  • Blainey, Geoffrey. The Causes of War. 3d ed. New York: Free Press, 1988.

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    Well-written exploration of causes of international wars since 17th century by a leading Australian economic historian. Argues for continuum of peace and war; considers wars of accident; wars of conspiracy; long and short wars; implications for nuclear era. First published in 1973 (London: Macmillan).

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  • Doyle, Michael. Ways of War and Peace: Realism, Liberalism, and Socialism. New York: W. W. Norton, 1997.

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    Dense, poorly written, but important survey of classical political theory on causes of war and supports of peace by a noted Kantian scholar. Discusses Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Bentham, Adam Smith, Schumpeter, Kant, Marx, Lenin, and other thinkers. Human rights and humanitarian intervention; future conflicts.

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  • Einstein, Albert, and Sigmund Freud. Why War? The Correspondence between Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. Translated by Fritz and Anna Moellenhoff. Chicago: Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, 1978.

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    Originally published in 1933 (as Volume 2 of An International Series of Open Letters) by the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations in Paris. It was also simultaneously published in French and German as Pourquoi la guerre? and Warum Krieg?, respectively. Brief exchange of letters; Einstein queries, Freud lectures. Moves from quite basic, ahistorical, and speculative set of queries about “war fever” and basic “instinct” to then standard prescriptions about proposed League of Nations solutions to problem of war.

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  • Freedman, Lawrence, ed. War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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    Anthology of short, selected readings on the experiences, ethics, and strategies of war; Part B covers debate on causation in eleven excerpted selections by historians, social philosophers, social scientists.

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  • Horowitz, Michael C., Allan C. Stam, and Cali M. Ellis. Why Leaders Fight. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139149334Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    One-dimensional data set, statistical ranking of forty leaders between 1875 and 2004, positing the usual social science suspects for the causes of war, with special focus on various characteristics (e.g., being over age seventy) as key “variables” most likely to turn a crisis into a war. Soulless, overly sweeping generalizations abound that will not convince most readers or historians.

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  • Howard, Michael. The Causes of War and Other Essays. 2d ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983.

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    Essays on war and modern society by leading military historian; causes of war; relationship of technology to modern war; strategies and ideas of nuclear war; “forgotten strategies”; uses and abuses of military history.

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  • Howard, Michael. War and the Liberal Conscience. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

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    Text of lectures by one of the most insightful and eminent of modern military historians, focusing on shifting perceptions of “the liberal conscience” about the role of war in promoting or retarding social progress. Period covered is early modern to 20th century. New edition (2008) includes Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

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  • Mason, Steve. A History of the Jewish War, AD 66–74. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139020718Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In depth on causes, course, and consequences of the war that, probably more than any other, marked the divergent paths of the major Middle Eastern cultures and religions, and that still inspire deep debate. Considers sieges and ancient warfare; causes of the Jewish Revolt; Roman policy and the invasion of the Middle East; and conquest and destruction of Jerusalem, the sieges of Machaerus, and Masada.

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  • Vasquez, John. “The Steps to War: Toward a Scientific Explanation of the Correlates of War Finding.” World Politics 40 (1987): 108–145.

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    Summary of central findings and theoretical directions of the first twenty years of the Correlates of War statistical compilation project of “conditions associated with the initiation, escalation, and outcome of conflict.”

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  • Waltz, Kenneth N. Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis. Rev. ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

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    Concise summary of major strands of classical Western political thinking on war: Augustine, Hobbes, Kant, Rousseau; mid-20th century behavioral science theories; liberal and socialist thought; balance of power theory. Organized as three “levels of analysis”: decision makers, society, international system. First published in 1954.

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Diplomacy

Diplomatic activity is often directly or indirectly related to planning war or avoiding war through neutrality, alliance management, deterrence, the balance of power, or collective security. Works cited here deal with the problem in key historical eras. Schroeder 1994 is a richly detailed study of the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna, and the 18th-century balance of power system. Taylor 1954 deals with the wars of Bismarck and the rise of modern Germany. Geoffrey Best broke fresh ground with Humanity in Warfare, enlarging understanding of diplomacy to include issues of human rights and the law of war, a subfield that grew exponentially in diplomacy and academic and legal writing after 1945 (see Best 1983). Kennedy 1987 presents a singular thesis on Great Power declines over the past five hundred years. It remains influential, despite large flaws. Henry Kissinger, a leading modern statesman, seeks to restore appreciation of contingencies of statecraft and balance of power politics in his elegantly written Diplomacy (Kissinger 1995). The best sources for ongoing debates on the diplomacy of war and the diplomacy of discrete wars are the H-Diplo and H-War online discussion networks. Both sites are especially useful for teachers.

  • Best, Geoffrey. Humanity in Warfare: The Modern History of the International Law of Armed Conflict. London, Methuen, 1983.

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    Preeminent scholar of law and war writes on rise of individual as subject, not merely object, of modern international law; prisoners of war; Geneva Conventions; evolving legal doctrines.

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  • Freedman, Lawrence. Strategy: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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    Ranges from biblical and ancient thought but mainly deals with 20th-century war and nuclear strategy. Organized in five parts: origins and the two world wars are followed by short essays on a wide range of social thinkers classed under “strategy from below” (Marx, Weber, Gramsci, Gandhi, others), to more modern managers, businessmen, organization theorists, economists, and sociologists who supposedly strategized “from above.” Multidisciplinary and broad brushed rather than sharply painted.

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  • H-Diplo.

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    Moderated electronic discussion by history and international relations scholars; foreign relations history, international relations history. Book reviews, topical posts, interactive discussion forums. Full online archives to 1993. RSS feed.

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  • H-War.

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    Moderated electronic discussion group, bulletin board for scholars, librarians, teachers of military history. Book reviews, topical posts, interactive discussion forums. Makes available bibliographical, research, and teaching aids. RSS feed.

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  • Hyland, John O. Persian Interventions: The Achaemenid Empire, Athens and Sparta, 450–386 BCE. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018.

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    Revisionist study of comparative classical imperialism (Greece and Persia). Considers imperial finance, ambition, uncertainty, motivation, and interaction. Ends in the “King’s Peace” achieved after much failure once competent diplomats finally engaged on both sides, though with the sidebar that Athens and its quadruple alliance wanted peace with Persia to better fight Sparta.

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  • Kennedy, Paul. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. New York: Random House, 1987.

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    Global treatment: Ming China, Ottoman Empire, Habsburg Empire, Japan, Russia, Great Britain, France, United States. Finance and geography of power; economic underpinnings of empire; problem of “imperial overstretch.” Famously predicted collapse of American empire two years before collapse of Soviet empire.

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  • Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

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    Simultaneously a survey of Western diplomatic history and a primer on contemporary diplomatic craft, principles, and practices by a leading thinker and statesman. Portraits of major statesmen and problems they faced in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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  • Laron, Guy. The Six-Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.

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    A full, definitive international history based in multiple archives. Focuses on bellicose but also insecure military and elites on both sides. Blames mainly Arab leaders for looking to resolve longstanding issues of domestic politics and regime legitimacy via aggressive war. Points to misplaced military confidence in American restraint on Israel, looking back to intervention in the 1956 war. Thus, a quick war assumption led to a short war catastrophe as Israeli leaders reacted forcefully to promote their expansionist ambitions.

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  • Schroeder, Paul W. The Transformation of European Politics, 1763–1848. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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    Unconventional, dramatic, deeply scholarly on diplomacy of nearly a century of war that altered basic shape of international relations in revolutionary ways. Fundamental critique of balance of power politics, centered on France.

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  • Taylor, A. J. P. The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848–1918. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1954.

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    Unconventional diplomatic history of the wars of Germany, from the revolutions of 1848 and several wars of Otto von Bismarck through the diplomatic origins of World War I.

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Technology

Military technology is about more than weapons. It is also concerned with fortification, transportation, and integration of weapons into military traditions, state finance, and recruitment. The key debate among scholars concerns the role of superior military technology as a driver of success in battle, but only putatively also of success in war. Some works identify a specific innovation or technical breakthrough as supposedly providing decisive advantages. Others object to “technological determinism” that explains large military outcomes solely on the basis of superior technology. They offer more sophisticated analyses that situate technology in social, economic, intellectual, and institutional contexts. An important subfield deals with the history of armies and navies. The effects of industrialized warfare on the experience of battle represent another burgeoning subfield. The most active debate is over revolutions in military affairs (RMAs), whether historical or current. The RMA debate is highly sophisticated and the most vibrant in the modern study of war. Works on total war are also relevant. John A. Lynn leads an important correction of coarser works that argue for a decisive role of technology. The case against technological determinism is neatly captured in the collected essays of Lynn 1990, unusual for covering the Moguls and early Muscovy alongside more familiar Western European developments. McNeill 1982 is comparably sweeping in historical and topical range. Rogers 1995 is a fine collection of essays on the RMA of early modern Europe by leading scholars. It is essential reading on the origin and evolution of the RMA concept but is historically and regionally confined. McElwee 1974 has been surpassed in detail by subsequent studies of military technology in 19th-century warfare but remains useful as a solid and compact history. Knox and Murray 2001 covers a wide range of RMAs, but the title is seriously misleading, as the last chapter takes the story only as far as 1945. Sloan 2002 is a narrower work but looks beyond theory and the American military to problems of RMA for lesser military powers. The best discussion of ongoing RMAs and possible future RMAs is found in the Journal of Strategic Studies. Its articles deliberately mix academic and professional military interests and authors. The online Journal of Military and Strategic Studies covers theoretical and technical debates, with current commentary on highly topical issues.

  • Cortright, David, Rachel Fairhurst, and Kristen Wall, eds. Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict: Ethical, Legal, and Strategic Implications. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2015.

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    Anthology of essays on legal, strategic, and ethical dimensions of drone warfare, emerging as a critical arena of secret killing and minimalist cross-border intervention. Surprisingly lacking on technical side.

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  • Journal of Military and Strategic Studies.

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    Electronic journal of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary. Mostly current and future military and security policy debates.

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  • Journal of Strategic Studies.

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    Strong focus on contemporary RMA; related issues of defense policy, strategic and military theory.

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  • Knox, MacGregor, and Williamson Murray, eds. The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300–2050. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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    Case studies of seven centuries of RMAs: Hundred Years’ War, 17th-century France, American Civil War, 19th-century Prussia, World War I, World War II. Does not cover 1945–2050, except in short conclusion. Differentiates between “RMAs” led by military institutions and “military revolutions” driven by social change. Top scholars.

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  • Lynn, John A., ed. Tools of War: Instruments, Ideas, and Institutions of Warfare, 1445–1871. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

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    Eclectic but well-conceived thematic essays on comparative patterns of army growth; changing naval tactics; impact of military technology on Muscovite Russia; European ascendancy over Mogul India; French revolutionary and British army tactics; Prussian army. Top scholars. No bibliography but well-sourced notes.

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  • McElwee, William. The Art of War: Waterloo to Mons. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1974.

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    Short work on 19th-century warfare that also focuses on military technology.

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  • McNeill, William H. The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society since A.D. 1000. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.

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    Broad, interpretive essays address puzzle of Chinese predominance followed by “great divergence” in world history attending rise of Western military power. Complex interplay of technical, demographic, economic, cultural changes as affecting evolution and lethality of warfare. Especially important on psychological shifts in experience of soldiering and sociology of modern armies.

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  • Rogers, Clifford. The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995.

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    Republication of a set of seminal essays in RMA debate about early modern Europe and first export of European RMA abroad. Authors include Michael Roberts, Geoffrey Parker, Jeremy Black, John A. Lynn, John Guilmarten, and other leading scholars.

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  • Sloan, Elinor C. The Revolution in Military Affairs. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002.

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    Explores RMA impact on smaller military powers; overviews of Australian, British, French, German defense modernization programs, problems of cost of high-tech systems; main case study is Canada.

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  • van Creveld, Martin. Wargames: From Gladiators to Gigabytes. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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    Asks why war has been simulated from chess to staff colleges to modern computer games. Do simulations reflect changes in warfare or its permanence? Argues they permit rehearsal and combat training, but more for battle than for war. Stresses both utility for professionals and limitations.

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Weapons

Lacombe 1999 remains a classic (originally published in 1869) that is available in several modern reprints. The various weapons guides published by IHS Jane’s 360, starting in the 19th century with many now published annually, provide detailed and authoritative technical information on weapons intended for military professionals. For nonprofessionals, Reid 1984 is a short, superb illustrated history. DK Publishing 2006 is more glossy and comprehensive, but not more reliable than Reid 1984. Parker 1996 is an important scholarly treatise on infantry and weapons revolutions in Europe after 1500. Its great strength is treatment of the interplay of new technology with existing institutions, war finance, and larger social issues. Hall 1997 is a modern classic on the dynamics of military transitions to new weapons technology. Bidwell and Graham 1982 is another modern classic detailing how an army adapts to new killing technology. Lüdeke 2007 is an accessible illustrated presentation of the main weapons systems of the greatest war yet fought.

  • Bidwell, Shelford, and Dominick Graham. Fire-Power: British Army Weapons and Theories of War, 1904–1945. Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1982.

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    Key study of artillery, the main killing weapon of the total wars of the 20th century. Details British army doctrine, practices, organization, adaptation.

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  • DK Publishing. Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor. New York: DK Publishing, 2006.

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    Covers four thousand years of portable arms and personal armor, from rocks and slings to modern personal weapons. One-fifth on sword and bow era; main focus on evolution of guns and 19th and 20th centuries. Notable for explication of how weapons work. Accompanying text by various military historians.

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  • Freemantle, Michael. The Chemists’ War: 1914–1918. Cambridge, UK: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015.

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    Chemistry goes to war and brings with it poison gas and better gas masks, high explosives, industrial dyes, new fuels, fertilizers for use in the war on food supply, and whale oil used in making nitroglycerine. Imaginative chapters consider the chemistry of a single rifle cartridge, from primers to propellants. Not for the casual or general reader.

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  • Hall, Bert. Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology, and Tactics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.

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    Modern classic on the interplay of weapons technology with existing military and cultural systems and dynamics of military transitions. Best single volume on war and weapons between the Middle Ages and the Thirty Years’ War.

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  • IHS Jane’s 360.

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    The standard reference books for intelligence agencies, scholars, government, and the military. Comprehensive, authoritative, richly illustrated, up-to-date, expensive. See especially Jane’s Air War, Jane’s Armor and Artillery, Jane’s Infantry Weapons, Jane’s Fighting Ships, Jane’s Historic Military Aircraft, and Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems. Acquired by IHS in 2007.

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  • Kaplan, Edward. To Kill Nations: American Strategy in the Air-Atomic Age and the Rise of Mutually Assured Destruction. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015.

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    Overview of the evolution of airpower strategy in the twenty-five years following World War II. Demonstrates how the Berlin and Cuban crises shifted thinking from reliance on primarily atomic warfare and deterrence of the Soviet Union that relied on airpower to a broader, more realistic military policy.

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  • Lacombe, Paul. Arms and Armour in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. London: Combined Books, 1999.

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    Classic study of ancient and medieval weapons and armor. Originally published in 1869 (London and New York: Cassell, Petter, & Galpin).

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  • Lüdeke, Alexander. Weapons of World War II. Bath, UK: Parragon, 2007.

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    Illustrated, oversize survey of infantry weapons, vehicles, armor, artillery, aircraft, warships, special operations weapons.

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  • Parker, Geoffrey. The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500–1800. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

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    Reworking and expansion of a key work on revolutions in military affairs (RMA) idea: impact of changing weapons technology over three centuries; interplay of social and economic dynamics in altering face of battle and state organization for war. Amended thesis takes good account of critics. Among most important books in field. First edition printed in 1988.

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  • Reid, William. The Lore of Arms: A Concise History of Weaponry. New York: Facts of File, 1984.

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    Compact yet detailed history of evolution of major weapons systems from Neolithic times to late 20th century. Main focus is gunpowder era. Well and colorfully illustrated.

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Logistics

Logistics is the practical art of moving and supplying armies and navies in war. A cliché of professional military men is that “amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.” New interest in logistics arose with works published in the 1960s and 1970s. The breakthrough was Huston 1966, which easily surpassed earlier work in ambition, research, and insight. Van Creveld 1977 exemplifies established scholars newly drawn into the study of logistics. It is a compact survey of developments since the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). Classicists also took up the study of logistics, producing such seminal works as Engels 1978. Writing on logistics is now a respected and important subfield among academics as well as military professionals. Some discussion forms part of most larger military studies. Samples cited above cover the classical world, the evolution of modern logistical systems in Europe from basic plunder to sophisticated magazines and national transportation systems, to the global reach of naval and air transport systems during two world wars and the Korean War. Pagonis and Cruikshank 1992 is a practically oriented report by the US commanding officer who oversaw logistics of the first Iraq War. It expands the traditional understanding to include social and cultural areas.

  • Engels, Donald W. Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.

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    Logistics of ancient world; exceptional Greek achievement on extended Alexandrine campaigns; important on interplay of logistics and strategy.

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  • Huston, James A. The Sinews of War: Army Logistics, 1775–1953. Army Historical Series. Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, United States Army, 1966.

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    Official history of US Army logistics, from desperate ad hoc measures of Revolutionary War, railways of American Civil War, and oceanic convoys in two world wars to exceptional air transport system of World War II and Korean War. Detailed, dense, important.

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  • Pagonis, William, and Jeffrey L. Cruikshank. Moving Mountains: Lessons in Leadership and Logistics from the Gulf War. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1992.

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    Case report by US commander in charge of logistics for Operation Desert Storm. Includes basic logistics of moving ammunition, soldiers, tanks, and food; also logistics of soldiers’ recreation, religious, and social issues. Management principles and focus.

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  • van Creveld, Martin. Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

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    Plunder and “contributions” systems of Thirty Years’ War; magazine systems of 17th–18th centuries; railway revolution in 19th-century Germany and World War I; logistics of desert campaigns and Operation Barbarossa in World War II. Solid survey.

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Command in War

Command is known in the jargon of modern military management as “C3” (command, control, communications). Discussion centers on new elements complicating control in war: expanded distance and scale of operations, increasing complexity, vulnerable communications, new weapons technologies, and overspecialization of professionals. Computers vastly increase data flowing to and from commanders, which also increases reliance on technical “solutions.” Yet even the most sophisticated C3 systems do not replace key decision-makers in critical roles. There thus remain abiding essentials of command: commanders still organize everything, from basic logistics to training on new weapons systems, to strategic, operational, and tactical doctrine. But can they really control their forces on the modern battlefield? The traditional approach to the study of command was biographical and comparative: which “great” military leader showed what special qualities in battle? In 1927 the important British military theorist Basil Liddell Hart wrote an iconic comparative study of this type, the “great man in battle” approach (Liddell Hart 1996). Numerous books of this sort appear regularly, though few are of such high literary or intellectual quality as Liddell Hart’s. An illustrative example of the poorer sort of military biography is Blumenson and Stokesbury 1975, which is at once unscholarly and unreliable. The Chandler 1987 collection highlights the importance of flexible command and innovative commanders. British field marshal Michael Carver brought his experience of command to Carver 1976, an edited collection of biographies of 20th-century generals. More important and sophisticated is a key study of the effort to institutionalize leadership: Görlitz 1953. The standard general work is van Creveld 1987, which sets out a systematic analysis and a breakdown of problems faced in arenas dominated by modern communications and weapons revolutions. Keegan 1987 is a different type of study: a well-written, if quixotic, consideration of “heroic leadership” that ends in rejection of that style as likely to be fatal in the nuclear age.

  • Blumenson, Martin, and James L. Stokesbury. Masters of the Art of Command. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975.

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    More military biography of commanders, mostly from 20th century. Notable for command at all levels, from platoon to army group. Lacks scholarly depth or context; choices are eclectic and mostly merely familiar and popular.

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  • Carver, Michael, ed. The War Lords: Military Commanders of the Twentieth Century. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1976.

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    Forty-three essays on 20th-century commanders. Army, navy, and air force commanders represented. Useful for short biographies and as introductory case studies.

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  • Chandler, David, ed. Napoleon’s Marshals. New York: Macmillan, 1987.

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    Twenty-six essays by leading Napoleonic Wars scholars; biography; campaign and battle history. Literary quality and interpretations vary. Edited by leading military historian.

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  • Görlitz, Walter. History of the German General Staff, 1657–1945. Translated by Brian Battershaw. New York: Praeger, 1953.

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    Key study of the revolutionary German general staff system that became world model. Surpassed in some respects by more recent work, but a landmark in military analysis.

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  • Keegan, John. The Mask of Command. New York: Viking, 1987.

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    Defines command as conqueror; four case studies of “heroic leaders”: Alexander as archetype hero; Wellington as antihero; Grant as disdaining heroism; and Hitler as false hero. Pleads for “post-heroism” in nuclear era command.

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  • Liddell Hart, Basil. Great Captains Unveiled. New York: Da Capo, 1996.

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    Iconic study of “great man in battle” approach; famed for argument about “indirect strategy.” Cases: Ghengis Khan, Subutai, Maréchal de Saxe, Gustavus Adolphus, Albrecht Wallenstein, James Wolfe. Long since surpassed as analysis, but historically influential. First published in 1927 (Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1927).

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  • van Creveld, Martin. Command in War. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.

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    Problems and significant changes in command and battlefield communications from Stone Age to classical Greece to Vietnam War. Acerbically written but concise and insightful, especially on role of modern technology in complicating command systems.

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Biography and Memoir

A handful of biographies and memoirs stand out as unsurpassed for special insight into problems or styles of command by critical leaders in important conflicts. First and foremost on any list of memoirs are the commentaries of Julius Caesar, most notably his The Gallic War (Caesar 2008). Widely regarded as second only to Caesar as a great military memoir is Ulysses S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs (Grant 1999), completed while he was in severe pain just days before his death in 1885. Memoirs have pitfalls, however, especially issues concerning honest recollection by the author. Two highly influential and widely read memoirs that are basically dishonest, but important nonetheless as eyewitness accounts of key events by central participants, are Lawrence 2008 and Guderian 1952. Many military biographies fall into the “Great Man” trap of heroic praise literature. Military biographies by more objective scholars who do not write in a heroic mold about Napoleon, Robert E. Lee, or some other national hero are rare but more reliable. Duffy 1986 is a focused scholarly study of the military leader many consider the most brilliant of the 18th century, and who in any case had huge influence over German military thinking in the 19th and 20th centuries. Duffy’s study is mostly free of the usual personal preoccupations that clutter more general biographies.

  • Aboul-Enein, Youssef H., ed. Reconstructing a Shattered Egyptian Army: War Minister Gen. Mohamed Fawzi’s Memoirs, 1967–1971. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2014.

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    Edited memoir, with multiple commentaries, of the Egyptian commander in chief, Colonel General Mohamed Fawzi, a key architect of Egyptian military renaissance after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, a catastrophe for Egypt. Covers political, military, and diplomatic matters from the 1962 counterinsurgency (COIN) war in Yemen to 1971 coup.

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  • Caesar, Julius. The Gallic War: Seven Commentaries on the Gallic War. Translated by Carolyn Hammond. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    Only memoir of a Roman conquest written by the general who led it. Part personal propaganda but mostly clear-eyed, uncompromising narrative in sharp, admirable prose and excellent translation. A seminal work on ancient world and European history. Detailed notes, maps, table of dates, glossary.

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  • Duffy, Christopher. The Military Life of Frederick the Great. New York: Atheneum, 1986.

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    Leading military historian assesses Frederick II’s campaigns and leadership; strategy, clear exposition of “oblique order” tactics; battle summaries. Maps.

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  • Grant, Ulysses S. Personal Memoirs. New York: Modern Library, 1999.

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    Clear, graceful, highly readable, detailed memoir of most important Union general; honest on prewar failures; western campaigns and battles, including Shiloh, Vicksburg; narrative of “Grand Campaign” from Wilderness to Appomattox Court House marred by author’s writing in great pain and while on medication. Generous, even humble, in spirit.

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  • Guderian, Heinz. Panzer Leader. Translated by Constantine Fitzgibbon. New York, Dutton, 1952.

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    Memoir of one of main leaders in development of Wehrmacht armored doctrine and Panzer forces before and during World War II; Panzer Inspector General; Chief of General Staff. Wrongly shifts all blame for operational failures to Hitler; avoids personal accountability for crimes of regime, military errors, own blind loyalty. Foreword by Basil Liddell Hart.

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  • Lawrence, T. E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. London: Vintage, 2008.

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    Exercise in the pitfalls of military memoir: duplicitous, deceitful, widely read, highly influential work by quixotic British liaison officer to “Arab revolt” against Ottoman Empire during World War I. First published in 1922 (Oxford: Oxford Times).

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  • Longerich, Peter. Heinrich Himmler. Translated by Jeremy Noakes and Lesley Sharpe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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    Himmler’s personal life and political career, culminating in intimate participation in the Nazi dictatorship, coups and purges, multiple wars of aggression, world war, and genocide. Illustrates a key role in leadership that is too often forgotten or misunderstood by generalizing and model-building social scientists: the role of idiosyncrasies of sinister personality, radical ideology, and peculiar opportunities and circumstance.

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  • MacDonald, Eve. Hannibal: A Hellenistic Life. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015.

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    One of the best of over one hundred books on the Carthaginian general who handed Rome its worst battle defeat at Cannae, balefully inspiring would-be imitators as late as World War II German generals who forgot that Carthage proceeded to lose the long war after its short victory. While oddly weak and inaccurate on Cannae itself, this excellent study steps back to situate Hannibal in the wider world of his day, noting him as a major cultural and political figure, as well as a military figure. Most of the book deals with his famous campaigns, which will please general readers as well. Well written and accessible, yet scholarly.

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  • Muir, Rory. Wellington: The Path to Victory, 1796–1814. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013.

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    Political-military biography moving from India to the Peninsular War to Toulouse in 1814, excluding Waterloo as belonging more to his later political career intended for a second volume. Organized in three parts: early career, India, and the Peninsular War. Written mainly at the campaign or operational level, with due regard for Wellington’s strengths in logistics and provisioning of isolated armies.

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