I am conscious of my good fortune—an accident of time and place of birth—in never having been called upon to fight in wars, or even be trained to do so, never having fired any weapon outside a fairground or been fired upon, and never having worn the uniform of any armed service or security force. This is a declaration of fact, not faith, which has resulted in my experience with the subject of this book being completely at second hand.
I have therefore been particularly dependent upon the experiences of others. My main sources of information and inspiration have been the writings and personal communications of practitioners and commentators from many academic disciplines, not all of whom are adequately acknowledged in the text. To these must be added two other less conventional sources, namely visits to the locations of many of the conflicts described here and to the remaining artefacts of defence in many parts of the world and simulational gaming.
Among the many who have fed me useful titbits of information, ransacked their personal libraries or offered their comments upon parts of the text, the following people must be mentioned: John Bradbeer, Michael Damminga, Ray Riley, John Tunbridge, Chris van Welsenes and Harry Vianen. Eric Runau and the cartographic section of the R.U. Groningen have drawn most of the maps with their usual skill. Finally, I must acknowledge the extraordinary patience of many members of my family, who have been trailed around so many battlefields and bunkers—in particular my son, Luke, whose work as a political scientist is acknowledged in the references, but whose most valuable contribution has been to refight all these battles with me.
There is a particular difficulty in writing about war (which is not overcome by adding its converse, ‘peace’), and the serious charge can be laid that by writing about war it may be at best rendered acceptable and at worst encouraged. Should not the accent be shifted to peace and the title read, ‘Defence and the city: how to render it unnecessary’?
One solution is to retreat behind technical terminology and an ostensibly scientific approach. This dehumanizes conflict and portrays it as an abstract