War in the Age of Technology: Myriad Faces of Modern Armed Conflict

War in the Age of Technology: Myriad Faces of Modern Armed Conflict

War in the Age of Technology: Myriad Faces of Modern Armed Conflict

War in the Age of Technology: Myriad Faces of Modern Armed Conflict


Technology of one kind or another has always been a central ingredient in war. The Spartan king Archidamus, for instance, reacted with alarm when first witnessing a weapon that could shoot darts through the air. And yet during the past two centuries technology has played an unprecedented role in military affairs and thinking, and in the overall conduct of war. In addition, the impact of new technology on warfare has brought major social and cultural changes.

This volume explores the relationship between war, technology, and modern society over the course of the last several centuries. The two world wars, total conflicts in which industrial technology took a terrible human toll, brought great changes to the practice of organized violence among nations; even so many aspect of military life and values remained largely unaffected. In the latter half of the twentieth century, technology in the form of nuclear deterrence appears to have prevented the global conflagration of world war while complicating and fueling ferocious regional contests.

A stimulating fusion of military and social history, extending back to the eighteenth century, and with contributions from such leading historians as Brian Bond, Paddy Griffith, and Neil McMillen, War in the Age of Technology will interest lay readers and specialists alike.


Geoffrey Jensen

Many military writers view the impact of modern technology on warfare with a mixture of fascination, dismay, and grudging respect, as if the dawn of a new age brought with it an inevitable but nonetheless tragic decline in the very skills and values that once made the waging of war an esteemed art. As William H. McNeill has written, the “technology of modern war, indeed, excludes almost all elements of muscular heroism and simple brute ferocity that once found expression in handto-hand combat.” the supreme danger in this development, he continues, lies in the unpleasant truth that the “industrialization of war, scarcely more than a century old, has erased the old realities of soldiering without altering ancient, inherited psychic aptitudes for the collective exercise of force.”

Such concerns are not new. in fact, even before the atomic horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the English military theorist J. F. C. Fuller compared military invention to “a Frankenstein monster,” warning that it was “destroying man’s own work, his own culture, his own civilization, his past, his present and his future.” and Fuller—who was anything but a pacifist—had been preceded in this gloomy outlook by Friedrich Engels, who, together with the other founder of modern socialism, Karl Marx, so dramatically forecast the downfall of capitalism. Despite their ostensible enthusiasm for . . .

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