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The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050 [Hardcover]

MacGregor Knox , Williamson Murray

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Book Description

27 Aug 2001
The Dynamics of Military Revolution aims to bridge a major gap in the emerging literature on revolutions in military affairs, suggesting that there have been two very different phenomena at work over the past centuries: 'military revolutions', which are driven by vast social and political changes; and 'revolutions in military affairs', which military institutions have directed, although usually with great difficulty and ambiguous results. By providing both a conceptual framework and a historical context for thinking about revolutionary changes in military affairs, the work establishes a baseline for understanding the patterns of change, innovation, and adaptation that have marked war in the Western World since the thirteenth century - beginning with Edward III's revolutionary changes in medieval warfare, through the development of modern Western military institutions in seventeenth-century France, to the cataclysmic changes of the First World War and the German Blitzkrieg victories of 1940. This history provides a guide for thinking about military revolutions in the coming century, which are as inevitable as they are difficult to predict.

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'… there is a fine scholarship, perceptive judgment and much of interest in the collection …'. English Historical Review

Book Description

By providing both a conceptual framework and a historical context for thinking about revolutionary changes in military affairs, The Dynamics of Military Revolution establishes a baseline for understanding the patterns of change, innovation, and adaptation that have marked war in the Western World since the thirteenth century.

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"The term ""revolution in military affairs"" (RMA) became decidedly fashionable in the course or the 1990s." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
77 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heart of Asymmetric Advantage is NOT Technology 28 Oct 2001
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the only serious book I have been able to find that addresses revolutions in military affairs with useful case studies, a specific focus on whether asymmetric advantages do or do not result, and a very satisfactory executive conclusion. This book is strongly recommended for both military professionals, and the executive and congressional authorities who persist in sharing the fiction that technology is of itself an asymmetric advantage.

It merits emphasis that the author's first conclusion, spanning a diversity of case studies, is that technology may be a catalyst but it rarely drives a revolution in military affairs--concepts are revolutionary, it is ideas that break out of the box.

Their second conclusion is both counter-intuitive (but based on case studies) and in perfect alignment with Peter Drucker's conclusions on successful entrepreneurship: the best revolutions are incremental (evolutionary) and based on solutions to actual opponents and actual conditions, rather than hypothetical and delusional scenarios of what we think the future will bring us. In this the authors mesh well with Andrew Gordon's masterpiece on the rules of the game and Jutland: we may be best drawing down on our investments in peacetime, emphasizing the education of our future warfighters, and then be prepared for massive rapid agile investments in scaling up experimental initiatives as they prove successful in actual battle.

The book is noteworthy for its assault on fictional scenarios and its emphasis on realism in planning--especially valuable is the authors' staunch insistence that only honesty, open discussion among all ranks, and the wide dissemination of lessons learned, will lead to improvements.

Finally, the authors are in whole-hearted agreement with Colin Gray, author of Modern Strategy, in stating out-right that revolutions in military affairs are not a substitute for strategy as so often assumed by utopian planners, but merely an operational or tactical means.

This is a brilliant, carefully documented work that should scare the daylights out of every taxpayer--it is nothing short of an indictment of our entire current approach to military spending and organization. As the author's quaintly note in their understated way, in the last paragraph of the book, "the present trend is far from promising, as the American government and armed forces procure enormous arsenals only distantly related to specific strategic needs and operational and tactical employment concepts, while continu[ing], in the immortal words of Kiffin Rockwell, a pilot in the legendary First World War Lafayette Escadrille, to 'fly along, blissfully ignorant, hoping for the best.'"

Lest the above be greeted with some skepticism, let us note the 26 October 2001 award of $200 billion to Lockheed for the new Joint Strike Fighter calls into serious question whether the leadership in the Pentagon understands the real world--the real world conflicts of today--all 282 of them (counting 178 internal conflicts) will require the Joint Strike Fighter only 10% of the time--the other 90% of our challenges demand capabilities and insights the Pentagon is not only not capable of fielding, it simply refuses to consider them to be "real war." Omar Bin Laden beat the Pentagon on 11 September 2001, and he (and others who follow in his footsteps) will continue to do so until we find a military leadership that can lead a real-world revolution in military affairs.... rather than a continuing fantasy in which the military-industrial complex lives on regardless of how many homeland attacks we suffer.
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Technology alone just doesn't cut it.... 21 April 2003
By "top_cat1980" - Published on
This book contains an awful lot of wisdom for such a slim volume (it clocks in at just under 200 pages).
The authors examine the natures of military revolutions and RMA (a very hot topic that has arguably produced more hot air than substance) and provide a number of case studies examining the issues and testing the authors' views through history.
The case studies are;
- The English in the 14th century
- 17th century France
- The French Revolution
- The American Civil War
- The Prussian RMA, 1840-1871
- The Battlefleet Revolution
- The First World War
- Blitzkrieg 1940
The various case studies are backed up by an extremely satisfying introduction and a thorough, well argued conclusion which fires one or two shots across the bows of those residents of the Pentagon who may be suffering from technology-centric tunnel vision. The authors (very distinguished bunch, it should be said) warn against the idea that Clausewitzian truths regarding such issues as friction can be discounted thanks to the wonders of technology and indeed make clear that they are as important as ever.
The various case studies work extremely well as concise stand-alone works on their various historical periods, even if RMA is not your hot topic. Especially good are the chapters on the English in the 14th century and on the Battlefleet Revolution (and the inner workings of the Imperial German Navy and the Royal Navy during this period).
This is a well written, interesting book which should annoy all the right people.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Military Development 18 Sep 2010
By C. Reich - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a standard book that is required reading for Army Field Grade officers. It is easy to read and has some good points.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050 10 Feb 2010
By G. Taylor - Published on
This is a well written book by two former military officers who share their insights and research on the subject of Military Revolutions and how they have affected the different countries of the world. It is a good read for military history and just those who like military type subjects. This book is somewhat detailed with good historical examples.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique experience... 10 Nov 2009
By James D. Crabtree - Published on
... a book that is both required reading AND interesting!

The Dynamics of Military Revolution looks at the evolution of military power and does it very well. This book looks at Military Revolutions (which had wide-ranging impacts on social and political matters as well as military) and Revolutions in Military Affairs (which are characterized by new weapons, tactics and other military innovations and which can contribute to Military Revolutions).

If you're looking for a theory that explains why new weapons systems aren't always revolutionary, or how something as simple as paying your troops for a change can result in a major shift in military power, then this is a book you want to read. It includes a lot of good writing and the reasoning behind it is impeccable. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.
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