In This Review

Edited by Lawrence D. Freedman
Oxford University Press, 1994, 385 pp

The college reader is a familiar work, and one usually disdained by those who have escaped the clutches of Social Sciences 17, "Conflict, Society and Politics," and its ilk. When one picks up a volume such as this, which offers 97 authors (a bit fewer because of double-counting) at roughly four pages apiece, one fears the worst, not nuggets of wisdom but mere granules. Fortunately, however, Freedman, head of the War Studies program at King's College, University of London, has transcended the genre brilliantly. Not only has he shrewdly picked out some of the pithiest and most disturbing passages (Moltke, for example: "Eternal peace is a dream and not even a beautiful one, while war is an element of God's world order"), he has arrayed a marvelous variety of authors ranging from contemporary times to the Battle of Trafalgar, and ordered them with splendid effect. Professors preparing exams will surely mine this reader for quotes, set off by the dismaying injunction, "Discuss." But students and, one hopes, the general reader will find themselves doing the most desirable thing, chewing on these morsels and then, seized by curiosity, going to the original works (or the slender but well-chosen bibliography) for a full repast.