An ambitious new view of modern history, providing a new intellectual framework for understanding the course of history, based upon indepth research and startling new analyses.
In War Made New, acclaimed author Max Boot explores how innovations in warfare mark crucial turning points in modern history, influencing events well beyond the realm of combat. Combining gripping narrative history with wide-ranging analysis, Boot focuses on four "revolutions" in military affairs and describes key battles from each period to explain how inventions ranging from gunpowder to GPS-guided air-strikes have remade the field of battle -- and shaped the rise and fall of empires.
Bringing to life battles from the defeat of the Spanish Armada to Wellington's victory at Assaye, War Made New analyzes the Gunpowder Revolution and explains warfare's evolution from ritualistic, drawn-out engagements to much deadlier events, precipitating the rise of the modern nation state. He next explores the triumph of steel and steam during the Industrial Revolution, including the British triumph at Omdurman and the climax of the Russo-Japanese war at Tsushima, showing how it powered the spread of European colonial empires. Moving into the twentieth century and the Second Industrial Revolution, Boot examines three critical clashes of World War II -- the German army's blitzkrieg, Pearl Harbor, and the firebombing of Tokyo -- to illustrate how new technology such as the tank, radio, and airplane ushered in terrifying new forms of warfare that aided the rise of highly centralized, and even totalitarian, world powers. Finally, in his section on the Information Revolution, Boot focuses on the Gulf War, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iraq war, arguing that even as cutting-edge technologies such as stealth aircraft have made America the greatest military power in world history, advanced communications systems have allowed decentralized, "irregular" forces to become an increasingly significant threat to Western power.
From bronze cannons to smart bombs, this engaging study examines the impact of new weaponry on war by spotlighting exemplary battles, including famous epics like the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the attack on Pearl Harbor along with obscure clashes like the 1898 Battle of Omdurman, in which a British colonial force mowed down Sudanese tribesmen with machine guns. Boot (The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power) gives due weight to social context: advanced weapons don't spell victory unless accompanied by good training and leadership; innovative doctrine; an efficient, well-funded bureaucracy; and a "battle culture of forbearance" that eschews warrior ferocity in favor of a soldierly ethos of disciplined stoicism under fire. These factors flourish, he contends, under a rationalist, progressive Western mindset. The author, a journalist and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, enlivens his war stories with profiles of generals from Gustavus Adolphus to Norman Schwarzkopf and splashes of blood and guts. Boot distills 500 years of military history into a well-paced, insightful narrative. (Oct.)
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October 18, 2006
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