European Armies and the Conduct of War

European Armies and the Conduct of War

European Armies and the Conduct of War

European Armies and the Conduct of War


Discussing the key issues of modern warfare, Hew Strachan¿¿"s work examines the theory and practice of land warfare in Europe since 1700.Looking at warfare in the context of social and political change, Dr. Strachan interprets his subject matter as widely as possible, and European Armies and the Conduct of War considers the roles of air power and the impact of the United States on European military developments.Through the eyes of the major theorists of the day, European Armies examines:* how the social and political influences which shape armies, also mould the attitude of those armies to warfare* the story of techinal innovation* the mounting pace of industrialization and its impact of warfare.Recent military history has tended to focus on the relationship between armies and society and there has been much original research on the subject of the conduct of war. This book brings these approaches together, providing information and insight vital to the study of this fascinating era.


This is a book about the theory and practice of war. It is not primarily an account of the campaigns fought in the last two or three hundred years; it is more an attempt to consider how European armies rationalised their experience of those campaigns and so prepared their plans and doctrines for the next. It is also a book about social and technological change. Therefore, it begins with the eighteenth century, and thus aims to set its subject matter in the context both of the Industrial and of the French Revolutions. Geographically, it takes a broad swathe through Central and Western Europe. It tends to neglect the Scandinavian and Mediterranean peripheries, and at points it focuses exclusively on the leading and most innovative nation of the day. The attention given to the military experience of the United States, and the consideration of airpower, may both seem extraneous elements. By the end of the book, I hope it will be clear why they have been included. A chapter has been devoted to colonial warfare, but guerrilla and counter-insurgency operations have not been treated.

A book like this is a work of synthesis. I have leant heavily on the research and writing of others, and in particular-like many other military historians-have been inspired by the work of Michael Howard and Peter Paret. The Guides to Further Reading at the end of each chapter (while not revealing the full range of my obligations) are intended to suggest a number of reasonably available works, preferably in English, with which to begin further study. They refer to books by the author's name (and, if necessary, by the date of publication): the full bibliographical details of each are contained in the Select Bibliography at the end. Bibliographical comments of a general nature are to be found in the Guide to Further Reading at the end of chapter 1.

The bulk of this book first took shape in lectures and seminars at Cambridge and Sandhurst. I am therefore indebted to my colleagues and pupils in both places. Over the years I have learnt much from Clive Trebilcock, Brian Bond and Dr Christopher Andrew. More specifically, Dr T.C.W. Blanning, Dr C.A. Bayly and Dr D. Stevenson have read and commented on portions (or, in the latter case, all) of the work. Their advice was invaluable. Professor Paul Kennedy has played a vital, if fortuitous, role. Finally I must thank the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, for a number of research grants and for providing such a congenial environment in which to work.


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