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The Cambridge History of War: Volume 4, War and the Modern World
Edited by Roger Chickering, Dennis Showalter, and Hans van d
Cambridge University Press, 2012, 668 pp.
This elegantly produced collection tells the story of modern warfare, beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, a point described in the opening essay, by van de Ven, as a “hinge in time,” when the Napoleonic Wars were a memory and World War I could not yet be imagined. The shock of World War I’s carnage, but also the inability to get out of the political and operational mindsets that made it possible, dominates much of the book. The final essay considers “the era of American hegemony” and concludes in 2005, at an ambiguous point in the Iraq war. The volume’s comprehensiveness comes at the expense of depth. But the overall standard is high, and although the book covers much familiar ground, it puts forward some smart, original thinking about the social aspects of war.
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