European Warfare, 1815-2000: Problems in Focus. Edited by Jeremy Black. New York: Palgrave, 2002. ISBN 0-333-78668-8. Tables. Notes and references. Index. Pp. 247. $22.95.
European Warfare, 1815-2000, is not a battle-by-battle account of ground and naval actions but rather a thoughtful discussion of military thought and change. The authors not only cover traditional topics but include underrepresented facets of conflict such as colonial warfare. The discussions of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and the Bosnian War in the 1990s are more complete than those found in many warfare textbooks. The authors attempt to present an understanding of their topic and its current scholarship. This work should increase the comprehension of many topics for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Dennis Showalter's essay, "Europe's Way of War, 1815-64," challenges the view that these years were militarily stagnant. Instead he sees this period's militaries as internally concerned with broad change. Soldiers and sailors recognized this as a time of technological advancement yet did not rush to innovate, anticipating that pioneers may not possess superior weapons when war emerged.
Jeremy Black, in his essay "European Warfare, 1864-1913," points out the power of paradigms in military establishments. Western European armies relied on their faith in the offensive, but they failed to recognize the effectiveness of firepower during conflicts such as the Balkan Wars. The offensive war paradigm remained unchallenged among military staffs.
S. P. Mackenzie, in "The Second World War, 1939-45," divides that war into eight broad categories, including conventional ground operations, intelligence, irregular warfare, and economic mobilization. Though he does not see clandestine warfare, strategic bombing, intelligence, or propaganda as war-winning efforts, they were necessary elements in supporting the anti-Axis coalition to victory. German battlefield victories in the early years of [End Page 314] the war, based on the integration of tanks, infantry, airpower, and artillery created the model for later Allied ground victory. With the Allies holding the majority of advantages, e.g., economic mobilization, the accession of Allied commanders like Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, mimicking this new warfare was the final element needed for victory.
Warren Chin's essay "The Transformation of War in Europe, 1945- 2000,"
gives special attention to the war in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995. He makes
valid points concerning warfare at the end of the twentieth century. For
instance, during the last fifty years the purpose of the military has
been to deter wars not to fight them. Western military establishments
now require their governments to provide them with clear, achievable
objectives. Regional warfare has become increasingly internationalized
and the media has a new pronounced role in warfare, helping to shape
the opinions of a politically active populace.
Daniel Lee Butcher
Kansas State University