Men in Arms: A History of Warfare and Its Interrelationships with Western Society

Men in Arms: A History of Warfare and Its Interrelationships with Western Society

Men in Arms: A History of Warfare and Its Interrelationships with Western Society

Men in Arms: A History of Warfare and Its Interrelationships with Western Society

Excerpt

The history of human society has been punctuated by war; but the study of military history has all too often been undertaken as if war always existed in a vacuum. Probably because by far the greatest number of those who have concerned themselves with the study of war have had a professional interest, there has been a tendency to concentrate on campaign narratives, battle outlines, and studies of the qualities of leadership shown by great commanders. All too often the necessity for an adequate background of political, economic, social, and cultural history for the full understanding of military events has not been realized. Attention has been concentrated on a few aspects of military history to the exclusion of others. The history of operations has not always been written and studied with enough awareness of the history of military administration and of supply; weapon development has been sometimes treated as if it were a watertight compartment in the general structure; and it is only recently that, as a result of a renewed interest in amphibious warfare induced by the lessons of recent wars and by the complications produced by the rise of a third arm, there has grown up a tendency to treat war as a whole rather than as separate military (in the narrow sense of the word) and naval narratives.

The study of military history has almost always been undertaken as a means of learning lessons for the future conduct of operations. It has long been realized that while the opportunities for training commanders in war or mimic war are limited, a vast amount of experience lies buried in the story of past warfare. But the study of narratives of campaigns requires a background knowledge not merely of the history of weapon development and of army organization but also of political, economic, and social history. Similarly the study of warfare must include enquiry into the social and technical changes which have affected it. Without these wider investigations military history by itself is of little value.

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