A History of Military Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Cold War / Edition 1

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From the ideas of Clausewitz to contemporary doctrines of containment and cold war, this is a definitive history of modern military thought. A one-volume collection of Azar Gat's acclaimed trilogy, it traces the quest for a general theory of war from its origins in the Enlightenment. Drastically re-evaluating B.H. Liddell Hart's contribution to strategic theory, the author argues that in the wake of the trauma of the First World War, and in response to the Axis challenge, Liddell Hart developed the doctrine of containment and cold war long before the advent of nuclear weapons. He reveals Liddell Hart as a pioneer of the modern western liberal way in warfare which is still with us today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Probably the most authoritative single volume study of military thought that is currently available, and certainly one of the most accessible. Gat successfully relates a multiplicity of military thinkers to the intellectual environment in which they worked."— The Historian
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199247622
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/17/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 906
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Part One: The Military School of the Enlightenment
1. Montecuccoli: The Impact of Proto-Science on Military Theory
2. The Military Thinkers of the French Enlightenment: The Quest for a General Theory of War
3. The Military Thinkers of the German 'Aufklarung'
4. Through the Napoleonic Age
Part Two: The German Movement, Clausewitz, and the Origins of the German Military School
5. The Reaction Against the Enlightenment: New Perspectives on Military Theory
6. Clausewitz: Demolishing and Rebuilding the Theoretical Ideal
7. Clausewitz: The Nature of War
8. Conclusion
9. Clausewitz's Final Notes Revisited
Part Three: The Development of Military Thought
10. Positivism, Romanticism, and Military Theory 1815-1870
11. The German Military School: Its World-View and Conception of War 1815-1914
12. The Cult of the Offensive: The Sources of French Military Doctrine 1871-1914
13. From Sail to Steam: Naval Theory and the Military Parallel 1882-1914
14. Marxism, Clausewitz, and Military Theory 1848 to the Nuclear Age
Part Four: Fascist Modernism and Visionaries of Machine Warfare
15. Introduction: The 'Janus Face' of Fascism
16. J. F. C. Fuller: Positivism, Evolution, Fascism, and Future Warfare
17. Futurism, Proto-Fascist Italian Culture, and the Sources of Douhetism
18. German Right-Wing Radicalism, Strategic Adventurism, and Mechanized Warfare
19. Comparisons and Contrasts (I): American Populism, Progressivism, and Mid-West Technological Modernism
20. Comparisons and Contrasts (II): Marxism, Modernism, and the Doctrine of 'Deep Battle'
21. Part Five:Lideel Hart, Modern, and Post-Modern Strategy Introduction
22. Background: The First World War in Western Consciousness
23. Theory: The Lmited War, Moderate Peace, and the Strategy of Indirect Approach
24. Policy: Defence of the West (I): Containment in the 1930s
25. Policy: Defence of the West II: Hot War-Cold War
26. Conclusion: 'The Western Way in Warfare', Past and Future

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2004

    Pretentious account of military thought

    This is the one-volume collection of Azar Gat¿s trilogy on military thought. He explores thinking about war and strategy ranging from Machiavelli to the 1950s, relating the ideas to their cultural and historical contexts. As he writes, ¿New ideas emerge during periods of revolutionary change or at times of crisis, in response to great historical challenges.¿ The great strategic thinkers Jomini and Clausewitz developed their revolutionary ideas in response to the French Revolution. Gat argues that World War One¿s massive slaughter forced a paradigm shift from Clausewitz¿s ideas to the new idea of limited war. But Julian Corbett, limited war¿s greatest theorist, first published his ideas before 1914. Corbett argued, like Clausewitz, that wars were means to an end, continuations of policy. But he showed that wars could take many forms, with differing limits, depending on their political aims. Gat exaggerates the importance of J. F. C. Fuller in the interwar period. Fuller plagiarised Ernest Swinton, who first proposed using tanks offensively in numbers to achieve breakthrough. Fuller fantasised that tanks alone could win wars, without infantry and combined arms. Gat also over praises Basil Liddell Hart, who idealised limited war, just part of Britain¿s military experiences. In the 1930s, Hart predicted that wars would become more humane and rational: World War Two was the most destructive war in history. In this war, the greatest test of Britain¿s survival as an independent and sovereign nation, Fuller and Hart encouraged Hitler to attack the Soviet Union. Hart opposed the Allies¿ policy of total war against Hitler, and called for Britain to collaborate with Hitler. Hart claimed that victory was unattainable and that fighting Hitler would `only lead to mutual suicide, and the collapse of civilisation¿. Gat asserts that Hart pioneered a `Western way¿ of warfare, of limited war, containment and economic coercion, based on the reactionary dreams of European and World Federation. But there is no such `Western way¿: Western ruling classes waged all sorts of wars against national liberation struggles, annihilatory against Korea, Algeria and Vietnam, relatively limited against Malaya and Kenya.

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