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Review of Warfare in the Eighteenth Century by Jeremy Black

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baggins
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Review of Warfare in the Eighteenth Century by Jeremy Black

Post by baggins on Sat Sep 18, 2010 5:38 pm

Review of Warfare in the Eighteenth Century by Jeremy Black

What makes Black's book different is rejects the normal Eurocentric view and is genuinely an overview of warfare around the world in the eighteenth century. This makes for intersting reading. Who for example, was the most dynamic and succesful military power on land in 1700? The mighty France under Louise XIV perhaps or the resiliant Ottomans one might chance. Not so, argues Black, the answer is China which expanded again and again, finished off its Dsungar enemies and subdued the Afaqi Makhdumzadas and Nepalese Ghurkas.

On the naval front Black is clear that europeans technological superiority was decisive but on land, and despite their technological superiority, Europeans needed local allies in North America and India to succeed, and that this puts political alliances at centre stage. After all these locals often had the advantage of being able to field massive armies in the case of India or fight a guerilla wars in North America. The dangers of tropical disease and problems in communication often offset a technological advantage which was can be over-stated when faced with quick firing arrows or gunpowder armed indians of both kinds. The Europeans only dominated and ultimately controlled these continents after these were overcome in the late eigthteenth century. In Europe Black notes that technological and tactical advantages were pretty insignificant and even advances such as Frederick The Great's Oblique attack were quickly countered (although not quickly enough for Austria!).

The book makes good use of maps to explain the politics and the campaigns of the era. There is no doubt Black is a brilliant historian but with such a broad and engaging vision the book does suffer from being far too short and this is really only an introduction to the subject. Moroever there are times when the narrative gets a little bogged down by listing dates and battles, and there is no in depth discussion of strategy and tactics and no discussion of naval strategy at all.

All in all this book is an excellent introduction.
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The Little Corporal
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Re: Review of Warfare in the Eighteenth Century by Jeremy Black

Post by The Little Corporal on Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:49 am

Thanks for the review, definitely sounds like it's worth a read but probably from the library rather than 'Waterstones' (or any other reputable retailer!). I would contest the China view due to the lack of comparable enemies in either population, wealth or technology...but i'll have to read the book to back up my half baked reasoning!


baggins
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Re: Review of Warfare in the Eighteenth Century by Jeremy Black

Post by baggins on Fri Oct 01, 2010 2:48 pm

Thank you in turn. I should say its a good book, but if you are already a seasoned reader on 18th century warfare you will probably not learn too much as the book is so short. If you are reading from the perspective of what you can put into practice in LGDR I would say my biggest lesson was that you need native allies if you are a European in North America or India. Black does not explain why the Spanish succeded so well in South America.

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