Wednesday, January 5, 2011
War Made New
War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History - 1500 to Today
by Max Boot
In War Made New Boot shows how technological and strategic revolutions have transformed the battlefield, from the Spanish Armada to the War on Terror, and how mastery of these innovations has shaped the rise and fall of nations and empires.
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.
He first looks at warfare in pre nation states. Next he 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.
Max Boot explains why western civilization came to dominate the world in the late 19th century. It is a great complement to Jared Diamond's book, "Guns, Germs, and Steel". The book looks at how the social organization of the countries, as well as technology, impacted the outcome of major battles as well as why important battles had the outcome they did.