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Synopsis

In this brilliant history of warfare, Jeremy Black is the first to approach the entire modern era from a comprehensive global perspective. He provides a wide-ranging account of the nature, purpose, and experience of war over the past half-millennium and argues the importance of viewing the rise of European power within a wider international context. Investigating both land and sea warfare, Black examines weaponry, tactics, strategy, and resources as well as the political, social, and cultural impact of conflict.

The book takes issue with established interpretations, not least those that emphasize technology, and challenges the view that European military and naval forces were dominant throughout the period. European mastery at sea did not always translate into equivalent success on land, says Black, and many non-European military systems-the Ottomans in their expansionist years, Babur and the Mughals in sixteenth-century India, and the Manchu in China in the following century, for example-were formidable in their own right. The author contends that in the nineteenth century, the focal period of Europe’s military revolution, the international military balance shifted decisively. Black shows how military developments, combined with political, economic, and ideological shifts, influenced the nature and success of European imperialism. Linking debates on early modern history with those of more recent centuries, he offers a fundamental reexamination of the role of war in the progress of nations.

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