The Causes of War


Geoffrey Blainey - 1973
    Analyzing all international wars since 1700, this widely quoted work solves the riddle of why some wars are long and some are short, and demonstrates how the outbreak of peace offers insight into the outbreak of war. Proving that war and peace are alternating phases of a relationship between rival nations, it offers a crucial, new understanding of international armed conflict.

The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathon to Waterloo


Edward Shepherd Creasy - 1851
    Creasy's Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World has been read and re-read for close to 150 years. It is not only the authoritative account of each battle that makes Creasy's work such a classic--it is his command of narrative, his interest in human struggle, his profound deductions as to effects of the battles, and his striving after truth. Furthermore, his selections seem as wise and well-considered today as when Fifteen Decisive Battles first appeared in 1851: Nobody since has made better ones, nor given us better accounts. Apart from the scholarship and literary skill of Creasy's book, there is another reason it has endured: Creasy was essentially fair-minded. He had been a judge, and when he became England's great military critic and historian, he maintained a thoroughly judicial attitude. He was not a British partisan, nor French, nor German--he was a cosmopolitan observer of great events.Out of 2300 years, Creasy only found fifteen battles which he called decisive in the highest sense. He chose them not for the number of killed and wounded, nor for their status in myth and lore, but because they fundamentally changed the course of world history. In doing so, he made his book a miniature military history of the western world, a classic that will repay continued study for generations to come, as it has for generations.

On War - Volume 1


Carl von Clausewitz - 1832
    You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy


David Stevenson - 2004
    Countering the commonplace assumption that politicians lost control of events, and that the war, once it began, quickly became an unstoppable machine, Stevenson contends that politicians deliberately took risks that led to war in July 1914. Far from being overwhelmed by the unprecedented scale and brutality of the bloodshed, political leaders on both sides remained very much in control of events throughout. According to Stevenson, the disturbing reality is that the course of the war was the result of conscious choices -- including the continued acceptance of astronomical casualties. In fluid prose, Stevenson has written a definitive history of the man-made catastrophe that left lasting scars on the twentieth century. Cataclysm is a truly international history, incorporating new research on previously undisclosed records from governments in Europe and across the world. From the complex network of secret treaties and alliances that eventually drew all of Europe into the war, through the bloodbaths of Gallipoli and the Somme, to the arrival of American forces, and the massive political, economic, and cultural shifts the conflict left in its wake, Cataclysm is a major revision of World War I history.

Decision in Normandy


Carlo D'Este - 1983
    The battle of Normandy was the most complex and daring military operations in the history of modern warfare. Two years of intense, detailed planning reached its successful conclusion when the Allied forces took to the beaches on D-Day.

Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion


Charles Townshend - 2005
    Many of Dublin's inhabitants wanted to weaken or terminate London's rule but there remained a vast and conflicting range of visions of that future: far more immediate was the unfolding disaster of the First World War that had put 'home rule' issues on ice for the duration. The devastating events of that Easter changed everything. Both the rising itself and-even more significantly-the ferocious British response ended any sense at all that Dublin could be anything other than the capital of an independent country, as an entire nation turned away in revulsion from the British artillery and executions. As we approach the 90th anniversary of the rebellion it is time for a new account of what really happened over those fateful few days. What did the rebels actually hope to achieve? What did the British think they were doing? And how were the events really interpreted by ordinary people across Ireland? Vivid, authoritative and gripping, Easter 1916 is a major work.

A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War


Paul Preston - 1978
    The Spanish Civil War is burned into European consciousness, not simply because it prefigured the much larger world war that followed it, but because the intense manner of its prosecution was a harbinger of a new and horrific form of warfare that was universally dreaded. At the same time, the hopes awakened by the attempted social revolution in republican Spain chimed with the aspirations of many in Europe and the United States during the grim years of the great Depression.'The Concise History of the Spanish Civil War' is a full-blooded account of this pivotal period in the twentieth-century European history. Paul Preston vividly recounts the struggles of the war, analyses the wider implications of the revolution in the Republican zone, tracks the emergence of Francisco Franco's brutal (and, ultimately, extraordinarily durable) fascist dictatorship and assesses the way in which the Spanish Civil War was a portent of the Second World War that ensued so rapidly after it.

The Boer War


Thomas Pakenham - 1992
    History Bk Club.

War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today


Max Boot - 2006
    Combining gripping narrative history with wide-ranging analysis, Boot focuses on four “revolutions” in military affairs and describes key battles from each period to explain how inventions ranging from gunpowder to GPS-guided air-strikes have remade the field of battle— and shaped the rise and fall of empires. Bringing to life battles from the defeat of the Spanish Armada to Wellington’s victory at Assaye, War Made New analyzes the Gunpowder Revolution and explains warfare’s evolution from ritualistic, drawn-out engagements to much deadlier events, precipitating the rise of the modern nation state. He next explores the triumph of steel and steam during the Industrial Revolution, including the British triumph at Omdurman and the climax of the Russo-Japanese war at Tsushima, showing how it powered the spread of European colonial empires. Moving into the twentieth century and the Second Industrial Revolution, Boot examines three critical clashes of World War II—the German army’s blitzkrieg, Pearl Harbor, and the firebombing of Tokyo—to illustrate how new technology such as the tank, radio, and airplane ushered in terrifying new forms of warfare that aided the rise of highly centralized, and even totalitarian, world powers. Finally, in his section on the Information Revolution, Boot focuses on the Gulf War, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iraq war, arguing that even as cutting-edge technologies such as stealth aircraft have made America the greatest military power in world history, advanced communications systems have allowed decentralized, “irregular” forces to become an increasingly significant threat to Western power. BACKCOVER: Advance Praise for War Made New “Max Boot traces the impact of military revolutions on the course of politics and history over the past 500 years. In doing so, he shows that changes in military technology are limited not to warfighting alone, but play a decisive role in shaping our world. Sweeping and erudite, while entirely accessible to the lay reader, this work is key for anyone interested in where military revolutions have taken us—and where they might lead in the future.” —U.S. Senator John McCain “While much has been in written in recent years about the so-called ‘Revolution in Military Affairs,’ Max Boot is the first scholar to place it within the broad sweep of history, and in the context of the rise of the West in world affairs since 1500. In so doing, he not only tells a remarkable tale, but he compels us all, even those obsessed solely with contemporary military affairs, to ask the right questions and to distinguish what is truly new and revolutionary from what is merely ephemeral. He has rendered a valuable service, and given us a fascinating read at the same time, so we are doubly in his debt.” —Paul Kennedy, Professor of History at Yale University and author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers “War Made New is impressive in scope. What is equally impressive is its unique interpretation of the causal relationship between technology, warfare and the contemporary social milieu. This is a superb thinking person's book which scrutinizes conventional historical wisdom through a new lens.” —Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor, USMC (ret.), co-author of Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq “Max Boot's book takes hundred of years of tactical battle history and reduces it to an incisive narrative of how war has changed. By providing such a coherent view of the past, he has pointed us toward the future. What is doubly impressive is how he draws surprising, fresh lessons from wars we thought we knew so much about but in fact didn't.” —Robert D. Kaplan, author of Imperial Grunts

The Donkeys


Alan Clark - 1991
    In the three-and-a-half hours of the battle, they sustained 8,246 casualties. The Germans suffered no casualties at all. Why did the British Army fail so spectacularly? What can be said of the leadership of generals? And most importantly, could it have all been prevented? In The Donkeys, eminent military historian Alan Clark scrutinises the major battles of that fateful year and casts a steady and revealing light on those in High Command - French, Rawlinson, Watson and Haig among them - whose orders resulted in the virtual destruction of the old professional British Army. Clark paints a vivid and convincing picture of how brave soldiers, the lions, were essentially sent to their deaths by incompetent and indifferent officers – the donkeys. ‘An eloquent and painful book... Clark leaves the impression that vanity and stupidity were the main ingredients of the massacres of 1915. He writes searingly and unforgettably’ Evening Standard

The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost


Cathal J. Nolan - 2017
    The book argues that major battles are not decisive to the outcome of wars; rather, wars depend on longer-term attrition in which the side that wins gradually and remorselessly overwhelms the other with larger arsenals and greater reserves of manpower. To illustrate his argument, Nolan draws on conflicts throughout the world and throughout history (aside from classical or medieval warfare, which, he argues, had greatly different natures from each other and from early modern and modern warfare). The Allure of Battle systematically examines a series of great battles, each described in the standard literature as the "turning point" of the war in which they occurred. It asks how they actually fit in the histories of those wars and military history more generally. In each case Nolan will show that even huge and important battles, which are widely considered to have been decisive, actually and mainly contributed to victory or defeat by compressing attrition, which is what in the end led to the outcome of each and every war. He will also illustrate how the character of longer wars of attrition also fundamentally shaped extended periods of postwar peace, that military, moral, and matériel exhaustion rather than battlefield supremacy per se was determinative. Nolan is not proposing to have discovered linear or universal laws about modern military history, nor is he attempting a theory of war. His point is to look at battles within the context of the wider conflict in which they took place. The result is an accessible, provocative, and even entertaining book that will reflect fresh thinking in the historical community about the conduct of warfare in terms that will appreciated by a wider readership.

The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871


Geoffrey Wawro - 2003
    Alarmed by Bismarck's territorial ambitions and the Prussian army's crushing defeats of Denmark in 1864 and Austria in 1866, French Emperor Napoleon III vowed to bring Prussia to heel. Digging into many European and American archives for the first time, Geoffrey Wawro's Franco-Prussian War describes the war that followed in thrilling detail. While the armies mobilized in July 1870, the conflict appeared "too close to call." Prussia and its German allies had twice as many troops as the French. But Marshal Achille Bazaine's grognards ("old grumblers") were the stuff of legend, the most resourceful, battle-hardened, sharp-shooting troops in Europe, and they carried the best rifle in the world. From the political intrigues that began and ended the war to the bloody battles at Gravelotte and Sedan and the last murderous fights on the Loire and in Paris, this is the definitive history of the Franco-Prussian War. Dr. Geoffrey Wawro is Professor of Strategic Studies at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Wawro has published two books: The Austro-Prussian War (Cambridge, 1996) and Warfare and Society in Europe, 1792-1914 (Routledge, 2000). He has published articles in The Journal of Military History, War in History, The International History Review, The Naval War College Review, American Scholar, and the European History Quarterly, and op-eds in the Los Angeles Times, New York Post, Miami Herald, Hartford Courant, and Providence Journal. Wawro has won several academic prizes including the Austrian Cultural Institute Prize and the Society for Military History Moncado Prize for Excellence in the Writing of Military History. He has lectured widely on military innovation and international security in Europe, the U.S., and Canada and is host of the History Channel program Hardcover History--a weekly book show with leading historians, pundits, critics, statesmen and journalists.

The Thirty Years War


Samuel Rawson Gardiner - 1970
    In many ways, this war, and the subsequent peace of Westphalia, would set the stage for the balance of power in Europe until the First World War in 1914. Fully illustrated to capture both the majesty and the horror of The Thirty Years' War.

The Fighting Temeraire: The Battle of Trafalgar and the Ship that Inspired J. M. W. Turner's Most Beloved Painting


Sam Willis - 2009
    Temeraire, one of Britain`s most illustrious fighting ships, is known to millions through J.M.W. Turner`s masterpiece, The Fighting Temeraire (1839), which portrays the battle-scarred veteran of Britain`s wars with Napoleonic France. In this evocative new volume, Sam Willis tells the extraordinary story of the vessel behind the painting and the making of the painting itself.Turner's Temeraire was the second ship in the Royal Navy to carry the name. The first, a French warship captured and commandeered by the British in 1759, served with distinction during the Seven Years' War before being sold off in 1784. The second Temeraire, named in honor of her predecessor, was a prestigious three-decked, 98-gun warship that broke through the French and Spanish line directly astern of Nelson`s flagship Victory at Trafalgar in 1805, saving the Vice-Admiral at a crucial moment in the battle. This tale of two ships spans the heyday of the age of sail: the climaxes of both the Seven Years War (1756-63) and the Napoleonic Wars (1798-1815).Filled with richly evocative detail, and narrated with the pace and gusto of a master storyteller, The Fighting Temeraire is an enthralling and deeply satisfying work of narrative history.

Arnhem


R.E. Urquhart - 1958
    The story of the 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem involved not only an Airborne Corps of three Divisions but also the bulk of the British 2nd Army in Europe. Gen. Urquhart has told the story of those fateful nine days clearly, frankly and, despite the terrible circumstances, not without humor.It ranks as an important work, describing an operation which opened with such high hopes and left its name forever as a feat of the highest endurance and valor.