First published over thirty years ago, War in European History is a brilliantly written survey of the changing ways that war has been waged in Europe, from the Norse invasions to the present day. Far more than a simple military history, the book serves as a succinct and enlightening overview of the development of European society as a whole over the last millennium. From the Norsemen and the world of the medieval knights, through to the industrialized mass warfare of the twentieth century, Michael Howard illuminates the way in which warfare has shaped the history of the Continent, its effect on social and political institutions, and the ways in which technological and social change have in turn shaped the way in which wars are fought. This new edition includes a fully updated further reading and a new final chapter bringing the story into the twenty-first century, including the invasion of Iraq and the so-called “War against Terror.”
Until comparatively recently the study of war has been didactic and normative: that is, the wars of the past were studied in order to deduce either immutable principles or lines of development as guides to the efficient conduct of the war in the future. So long as the organized use, or threatened use, of force, still remains an instrument in the conduct of international relations, such analytic studies will continue to be needed. But to abstract war from the environment in which it is fought and study its techniques as one would those of a game is to ignore a dimension essential to the understanding, not simply of the wars themselves but of the societies which fought them.
The historian who studies war, not to develop norms for action but to enlarge his understanding of the past, cannot be simply a ‘military historian’, for there is literally no branch of human activity which is not to a greater or lesser extent relevant to his subject. He has to study war not only, as Hans Delbrück put it, in the framework of political history, but in the framework of economic, social, and cultural history as well. War has been part of a totality of human experience, the parts of which can be understood only in relation to one another. One cannot adequately describe how wars were fought without giving some idea of what they were fought about. There are now numerous books that take this philosophy as the basis for their approach to the history of war, and I have done little more than put together in a very superficial fashion some of the ideas I have gleaned from them. A list will be found in the bibliographical note at the end of this work. I have also benefited greatly from discussions with my colleagues Professors J. M. Wallace-Hadrill and Lionel Butler, who tactfully punctured
|Title: War in European History|
Author: Michael Howard
Length: 171 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press; Updated edition (April 15, 2009)