Academic journal article Military Review

War in an Age of Revolution, 1775-1815

Academic journal article Military Review

War in an Age of Revolution, 1775-1815

Article excerpt

WAR IN AN AGE OF REVOLUTION, 1775-1815, ed. Roger Chickering and Stig Forster, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2010, 422 pages, $80.00.

Over the last decade, two historians, American Roger Chickering and German Stig Forster, have collaborated on a project exploring the nature and evolution of that ill-defined phenomenon, "total war." In association with the German Historical Institute, the two men have worked with a host of other scholars to compile five anthologies of scholarly essays examining the conceptual framework of total war and the way that idea has been realized on battlefields from the American Civil War to the Second World War. The result of their efforts is a body of scholarship that enhances our understanding of one of the most significant and terrible aspects of modern military history.

Their current work, a collection entitled War in an Age of Revolution, 1775-1815, is offered as a sort of "prequel" to their previous volumes. In putting it together, Forster and Chickering attempt to link the "master narrative" of early modern military history--"military revolution"--with the dominant narrative of modern warfare, the evolution of total war. At first glance, these two themes seem to intersect at the end of the 18th century when the American and French Revolutions led to an unprecedented mobilization and militarization of societies as well as the dramatic expansion of the geographic scope of organized violence. The question then becomes, did the expansion of state power and the growth of armies seen during the end of the ancien regime serve as clear markers on the road to versions of total war seen between 1914 and 1945? …

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