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Wars of Empire [Kindle Edition]

Douglas Porch
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 179 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

The nineteenth century marked the high point of Western Imperialism with much of the world falling under colonial rule.

European powers expanded their empires to swallow almost every independent state in Africa and Asia.

But were their armies really so superior to the native forces they eventually overcame?

In this ground-breaking book, historian Douglas Porch overturns the idea that indigenous fighters were easily outclassed by European armies. In this violent clash of cultures, the margins of victory were often slim and the 'civilized' powers sometimes met bloody defeat.

Native militias often defeated their European counterparts, and sometimes quite spectacularly. The British Army fell victim first to American rebels, then Afghans, Indian mutineers, and finally to the Boers.

From the 'scramble for Africa' to the Russian march into the Caucasus, this fascinating story of the Age of Imperialism is about more than mere clashes of arms. It is about clashes between civilisations, wars fought between peoples of radically different mentalities, different levels of political organisation, and of contrasting technological capabilities.

It chronicles the period of the great African land rush, the Russian advance over Central Asia, American imperialism and the expansion of the British Empire across the globe.

"This outstanding book will delight both scholars and well-informed general readers who appreciate a great story well told." Jay Freeman, Booklist.

Douglas Porch is a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.

Product Description

Book Description

An account of the rise and fall of the great nineteenth century empires, written by one of the world's greatest experts on imperialism.

About the Author

Professor Douglas Porch is Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1706 KB
  • Print Length: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Endeavour Press (16 Sept. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F97U9L4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #298,797 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wide ranging overview 14 Mar. 2006
By Graham R. Hill VINE VOICE
Despite its title, and that of the series of which it is part, this book is not only or even mainly about war. Rather it describes the political, economic, cultural and technological factors that led the 'developed' world to build empires and which affected the manner in which they were resisted by the indigenous population, or in some cases such as the Boers, the prior colonisers. It does cover the actual process of waging war, but as one element within the wider context rather than something that stands alone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provides sense of narrative and argument. 4 Nov. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Read Wars of Empire as student, but book will engage soldiers and military history buffs too. Book is excellent introduction to period and its major campaigns and battles. Author isn't blind to criticisms of Empire, but he also rightly points out the heroism and achievements involved too. Wars of Empire is concisely written and can be dipped in and out of.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Original and illuminating 10 Mar. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well-informed, persuasive argument. Does succeed in adding to our knowledge of European armies, wars and the mechanisms of Empire. Some shortcomings in terms of structure and presentation. Can be too superficial at times. Well worth a read.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star 15 Sept. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I did not read this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tough task, but well done 4 Oct. 2001
By J. Wan - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wars of Empire by Douglas Porch is part of the Cassell History of Warfare series edited by John Keegan. The title actually is a bit of a misnomer. It refers to the usage prevalent in Eurpoe around 1700-1900. By Empire, it means an imperial colonial system, and so examines predominately the European experience, although the American experience in the Phillipines, and Japanese efforts are also discussed. The series has been notable in its flexible approach. Rather than restricting its authors to a specific struggle or time period, the series has allowed some topics to span larger ranges of time and space. (examples: Age of the Fighting Sail, War in the Air: 1914-1945) This method of looking at the common points along a continuum helps to formulate a better understanding of seemingly disparate topics.
Major strengths: briefly summarizes the major imperial wars which created the vast colonial empires of the European powers between 1700-1900. It highlights their successes and failures. It traces the importance of technology (notably machine guns, naval power, telegraph) and how these actions were part of a greater political/economic plan. Of interest to current readers is the history of how areas were "pacified", and why empires have failed. The last chapter "Imperial Twilight?" examines why the great colonial empires fell apart after WWII.
Major weaknesses: it requires the reader to have some notion of the political climate of the different eras, and be able to sense the vast scales involved.
So, in conclusion, a well done effort on a complex topic. Not just a history of little known colonial actions.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A challenging task handled with grace 14 May 2007
By Sight Reader - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Porch is given a seemingly hopeless task: discuss a history that not only spans CENTURIES of warfare, but also an impossible variety of cultures and political contexts. Unlike other authors in this Smithsonian series, Porch approaches this seemingly impossible task with both energy and vision.

Porch must have quickly recognized that a strictly chronological approach would not have been at all insightful. There were simply too many Western powers trying to colonize vastly unrelated parts of the globe at the same time... any chronological approach to this topic in such a small book was doomed to becoming a simple list of battles and dates with little comment.

Instead, Porch chooses as his unifying structure the various strategies applied by Imperialists and their indigenous enemies. Porch identifies commonalities in both political and military strategies used in vastly different contexts, and organizes his discussion into these strategic lessons. The result is that battles in the 1700's may be mentioned in the same sentence as battles in the 21th century, provided that they present antagonists with comparable dilemmas. The advantage to this approach is that Porch is free to add profound insight without exploding the book to re-teach the lesson each time. The disadvantage, of course, is that all these tongue twisting names and dates seem to pop out of nowhere in the context of a lesson and can become hopelessly confusing for a first time reader.

Obviously, this approach makes it difficult to assemble any chronological narrative after just one reading, but Porch assumes that you will be reading this MORE than once. Porch ensures that there is sufficient information to allow a careful reader to go back and reconstruct a Colonial narrative from any viewpoint they choose. The maps and indicies in this book are absolutely vital, as they provide a very important launching point for a reader to go back and adopt a particular perspective from which to re-experience this book with a continent, imperial power, or century in mind.

Finally, the emphasis on "lessons learned" shows uncomfortable relevance to the American experience in Iraq. There is no direct mention of this occupation, so it is possible that the book was written before the invasion, but it is abundantly clear that the lessons learned painfully by imperial powers of centuries past were utterly disregarded by the Americans.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short but interesting 21 Nov. 2013
By Gregory Land - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
The author tends to exaggerate similarities and underestimate differences between nations' foreign policies and attitudes toward indigenous peoples. However, it provides a short overview of imperialism.
4.0 out of 5 stars Original and illuminating. 16 Mar. 2015
By Marcus Pieterse - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Well-informed, persuasive argument. Does succeed in adding to our knowledge of European armies, wars and the mechanisms of Empire. Some shortcomings in terms of structure and presentation. Can be too superficial at times. Well worth a read.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Typography Failure 27 Nov. 2013
By L Fox - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Coverage of the subject is superb. The conversion to Kindle format was poor enough to make for a fairly tedious read. Looks like scan/OCR failed badly enough to change vital wording in places. For instance, a fellow named R. J. Carling seems to have invented the Gatling gun.
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