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The Business of War: Military Enterprise and Military Revolution in Early Modern Europe Paperback – 8 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 446 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition - Second Impression edition (8 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521735580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521735582
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 501,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'David Parrott's sparkling and deeply-considered study is a seminal contribution to the history of warfare and government in all periods, and reveals that 'military outsourcing' was normal long before the Iraq War brought it into the headlines. Highly original in argument and notably lively in presentation, it will become a modern classic.' Hamish Scott, University of Glasgow

'David Parrott deftly explores the various shades of grey in the public private partnership between early modern state and military entrepreneurs. He proves that more often than not private enterprise simply did perform more efficiently than the state.' Lothar Höbelt, University of Vienna

'This splendid survey prompts many further questions … but the history of early modern warfare will never look the same again.' History Today

'This is an extremely important book. It marks a major reevaluation of almost everything we have believed about warfare in early modern Europe. It is not a picture of technology-driven change (though Parrott is aware of the significance of such innovations as the flintlock musket and ring bayonet), but instead a clear-eyed and unsentimental thesis showing how administrative and economic developments pushed warfare along specific lines. … The range of Parrott's scholarship - especially in the German literature - is prodigious; the footnotes alone are worth the price of admission. Military historians will doubtless debate the details for some time to come, but that is the point: all subsequent work in early modern military history will have to take into account the Parrott thesis.' Renaissance Quarterly

Book Description

An important re-evaluation of early modern warfare and its relationship to the power of the state. David Parrott reveals how far states devolved to private contractors the raising and equipping of troops, the construction and management of navies, the manufacture and distribution of weapons and even the conduct of war.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Williams on 12 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent overview of one of the key themes in early modern European military history. Learned and scholarly but accessible and well-structured.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Solid Analysis 10 Mar. 2013
By CarrierofLadders - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor Parrott's work on the logistical side of Early Modern recruiting and procurement is a much needed addition to the corpus of literature on the Early Modern state and Early Modern warfare. Seeking to overturn long-standing assumptions about the quality of "mercenary" soldiers and fleets, Parrott explores the possibility, rarely acknowledged by historians, that early modern states could often effectively wage war with armies and fleets raised by contract. The interaction between monarchs, state bureaucracy, the recruiting captains, and the soldiers themselves has never been so well examined, and is informed by Parrott's wide focus across multiple states. In challenging the assumption that contract armies of this period were not wholly ineffective and cutthroat bands, Parrott also challenges a progressive notion that the state's control over recruitment, procurement, training, and discipline was a forgone conclusion; instead Parrott offers different criteria to assess the military efficacy of the armies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries within the context of their times, and it suggests that states often found this system to be more effective than other methods of mobilization and deployment. It suggests in some cases a complimentary relationship between recruiters and their contract holders, one that was not as antithetical as has been suggested, and between soldiers and their paymasters.

The result is that Parrott's work may alter the understanding of the "Military Revolution" thesis, and suggest revisions to our understanding of the "mercenary" who has become a byword for Early Modern warfare. The book also examines the processes of the logistical tasks carried out by both private captains and state bureaucracy, and focuses on coordination as well as dissent between these two interwoven agencies.

A much needed Academic work to breathe more life into this period, I recommend it highly. The conclusions are controversial in some cases, but this has never been a subject without controversy. Indeed, in an age when discussions of private military forces are growing and in some cases being implemented, this read gives a vital insight to the age old problem of feeding Mars and highlights the solutions found by Europe's states, for better or worse, in the Early Modern world.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
How Mercenaries Created the Modern Army 7 April 2013
By A. A. Nofi - Published on
Format: Paperback
A summary of the review on StrategyPage.Com:

'Until recently treated as gangs of thugs-for-hire available to states unwilling to maintain armies of their own, in recent years mercenaries and military entrepreneurs have been getting more respect in the literature, a trend to which this is a very useful contribution. Parrott (New College, Oxford), who also wrote Richelieu's Army: War, Government and Society in France, 1624-1642 (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern History), essentially argues that mercenaries were the standing armies of the times, times in which state resources, even of major players, such as France or the Hapsburgs, were so administratively weak as to obviate the maintenance of substantial standing forces. He goes on to argue that mercenaries laid the foundations for the military institutions that the great powers would create as their bureaucratic institutions developed. Parrott spends about a third of the book looking at the period from the mid-fifteenth to the early seventeenth century, and then plunges into the Thirty Years' War, which arguably was the acme of the age of the mercenary and the military entrepreneur. The balance of the book examines the work of the military entrepreneurs during the protracted struggle, the conduct of operations, with many at times surprising examples, and how these experiences underpinned the rise of standing armies later in the Seventeenth Century. Parrott concludes by making interesting comparisons between the military entrepreneurs of the Seventeenth Century and the newer ones of the Twenty-first, with the rise of the private security and military corporations that have been playing not always laudable roles in recent conflicts. An important read for those interested in mercs, the Thirty Years War, the rise of modern military institutions, and the new era of private military entrepreneurs.'

For the full review, see StrategyPage.Com
One of the best books on early modern warfare 27 Jan. 2014
By Anton Tomsinov - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an absolute must-read for all military buffs. Military enterpriser has never been described in such depth and details.
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