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5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin, but not suitable for all readers, 17 Jan 2013
This review is from: Palgrave Advances in Modern Military History (Paperback)
This book is aimed primarily at the needs of students of military history either at advanced final year undergraduate, or masters level, and succeeds in this very well. It reviews historical issues or topics within the subject such as Total War, Air Power, Naval Warfare, Miltary Revolutions, the nature of military thought and the impact of technology on war. Depending on the nature of their interests, readers looking for the typical content on warfare of TV channels or the shelves of High Street retailers, such as the lives of great commanders, decisive battles of various eras, or the details of life within particular military units should consider carefully if this book matches their needs.

Rather its focus is on contemporary approaches to the subject that place military history, especially that of the past two centuries, within the broader context of history more generally. The chapter entitled "War and Society" by Michael Neiberg, for example, has headings on topics such as home fronts and fighting fronts, occupations and the suffering of civilians, civilian values and the behaviour of soldiers, civilian beliefs and the shaping of stategy, doctrine and operations, history, memory and myth making. Joanna Bourke, who contributed the chapter on "New Military History", is also the author of several books on gender, rape and the body, although within the context of military history is possibly better known for books such as "An Intimate History of Killing". Her chapter provides a clear introduction to the relationship between Cultural, and to a lesser degree Social and Military History.

Each chapter, other than the Introduction, is followed by an invaluable, annotated section on further reading, very much with the needs of students in mind. The editors have not simply focussed on warfare within Europe. Chapters on war in "the non-European World", "Imperial Military History" and "Low Intensity Conflict" such as revolutionary war or insurgency are welcome inclusions.

A few personal criticisms about presentation may also need to be made. The Index seemed a little brief and on the light side for a book of this type, but was clear and easy to use for the material covered. The font used was clear, but some readers may find it a little small. There is very little white or blank space arround the text itself so it is difficult to make notes in the margins or to place mini-notelets on the page without covering the text itself. Many people may not be inconvenienced by this and arguably perhaps books should not be treated in this way. Personally I found the use of headings set entirely in lower case mildly irritating, but many people may not even notice this. However this is a book targeted clearly at the student market and should be judged against that standard.

No book of this type can ever be the final or only word on advances within a field that is itself evolving and changing. Published in 2006, it provides a good summary of the state of play at that time, and will remain on my bookshelf for quite some time as a book not only to read and refer to repeatedly, but as one I am delighted to own. At some future date the editors and publishers naturally may want to consider a second, updated edition, but this will acknowledge the essential quality of this book as one that should have its lifespan extended rather than be quietly forgotten.
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Palgrave Advances in Modern Military History
Palgrave Advances in Modern Military History by Matthew Hughes (Paperback - 1 Jan 2007)
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