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War in the Age of Technology

Myriad Faces of Modern Armed Conflict

Robert Jensen, Andrew Wiest

Publication Year: 2001

Technology of one kind or another has always been a central ingredient in war. The Spartan king Archidamus, for instance, reacted with alarm when first witnessing a weapon that could shoot darts through the air. And yet during the past two centuries technology has played an unprecedented role in military affairs and thinking, and in the overall conduct of war. In addition, the impact of new technology on warfare has brought major social and cultural changes.

This volume explores the relationship between war, technology, and modern society over the course of the last several centuries. The two world wars, total conflicts in which industrial technology took a terrible human toll, brought great changes to the practice of organized violence among nations; even so many aspect of military life and values remained largely unaffected. In the latter half of the twentieth century, technology in the form of nuclear deterrence appears to have prevented the global conflagration of world war while complicating and fueling ferocious regional contests.

A stimulating fusion of military and social history, extending back to the eighteenth century, and with contributions from such leading historians as Brian Bond, Paddy Griffith, and Neil McMillen, War in the Age of Technology will interest lay readers and specialists alike.

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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p. ix

The authors wish to thank several people and institutions for aiding us in a multitude of ways in the production of this work. Above all, we would like to thank our colleagues in the Department of History at the University of Southern Mississippi. Led by Orazio Ciccarelli and Charles Bolton, the former...

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Introduction: The Meaning of War in a Technological Age

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pp. 1-16

Many military writers view the impact of modern technology on warfare with a mixture of fascination, dismay, and grudging respect, as if the dawn of a new age brought with it an inevitable but nonetheless tragic decline in the very skills and values that once made the waging of war an...

Part I: Technology and the Military: On and Off the Battlefield

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1. Infantry Armament and the Perception of Tactical Need, 1789–1918

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pp. 19-41

It has often been said that the need for a new weapon is identified by one set of people; then the weapon is designed and built by a completely different set of people; and finally, it is used in battle by a third group yet again, who will have had nothing to do with the deliberations of the first two...

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2. Technology, Industry, and War, 1945–1991

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pp. 42-65

The Industrial Revolution changed all aspects of how states fought wars. It may well represent one of only three revolutions to have affected the domain of war over the last fourteen thousand years,

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3. The Impact of Communications and the Media on the Art of War since 1815

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pp. 66-102

The very start of the twenty-first century has witnessed a preoccupation in the developed world with both communications technology and the mass news media. This has included a belief (often expressed in terms of very deep conviction) that both communications and the media have played a critical role in the wars of the 1990s and will do...

Part II: The Myriad Faces of Total War

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4. The Morale of the British Army on the Western Front, 1914–18: A Case Study in the Importance of the “Human Factor” in Twentieth-Century Total War

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pp. 105-139

Armed with powerful weapons produced by modern industrialized economies, the armies of 1914–18 waged war of unprecedented destructiveness. The Western Front in particular has come to exemplify a form of warfare in which the individual combatant was helpless in the face of high...

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5. Not All Beer and Skittles? Everyday Life and Leisure on the Western Front

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pp. 140-166

Industry and technology had a powerful impact on the armed forces of the British Empire during the Great War. At the outset of the conflict, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was an effective but tiny army that mainly served as a colonial police force. By November 1918, the BEF had become one of...

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6. The Indian Corps on the Western Front: A Reconsideration

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pp. 167-193

Similarly, no one realized that the empire would be forced to look eastward, to India, to offset its tremendous losses. British High Command balked at employing Asian troops in Europe, yet the long casualty list, rather than delicate colonial sensibilities, dictated the decision to do so. By the end of October 1914, the first elements...

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7. The Somme in British History

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pp. 194-210

What’s in a name? For most French, the Somme is simply the name of a river, like the Thames or the Severn; but for the British, “the Somme” has become a potent myth—grim, dark, somber—epitomizing the “horror” and “futility” of the First World War and, more specifically, the tragically ludicrous...

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8. The Elusive Victory: The BEF and the Operational Level of War, September 1918

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pp. 211-238

The Great War on the Western Front was different in its conduct and character from any conflict that preceded it. Its officers struggled to make sense of a seemingly horrible conflict, which did not correspond to their training or to their preconceptions about the nature of war. Neither the Napoleonic...

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9. Scientists at War: The Development of Radar and Jet Propulsion in Britain

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pp. 239-262

This remark, taken from Winston Churchill’s 1924 essay “Shall We All Commit Suicide?” contains his bleak vision of the future of warfare. Continuing, Churchill remarked that the only reason man has survived thus far was that “up to the present time the means of destruction at the disposal of man have not...

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10. War and Black Memory: World War II and the Origins of the Civil Rights Movement

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pp. 263-291

In 1993, some fifty years after the Allies defeated the Axis powers in Europe and Asia, I began interviewing some of the eighty-five thousand black Mississippians who served in uniform during World War II.

Part III: The Nuclear Age: Myriad Faces of Limited War

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11. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Legacy of War

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pp. 295-332

One of the great philosophical arguments throughout the ages centers on the most basic of human questions: Is mankind inherently good or bad? Are we little more than savages that the world would be better off without, or are we a perfectible species, born of a divine love? If mankind is, in fact, good, then it is quite possible that combat should...

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12. Iraq: A Third-World Superpower?

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pp. 333-364

In the post–Cold War world, the challenges facing the armed forces of Western nations have changed dramatically. With the possibility of large-scale conventional war all but gone after the fall of the Soviet Union, military challenges in the developing world have taken center stage. The diverse nature of these...

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13. Russia and Warfare in the Postindustrial Age

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pp. 365-380

The Soviet army was built for warfare in the industrial age, and it was undoubtedly among the most successful of the world’s armies during that period. It is no coincidence that Engels and Lenin, the founders of Marxist military theory, were writing as the Industrial Revolution came to its peak. Marxism...


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pp. 381-384


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pp. 385-397

E-ISBN-13: 9780814743867
E-ISBN-10: 0814743862
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814742501
Print-ISBN-10: 0814742505

Page Count: 406
Publication Year: 2001

OCLC Number: 51232330
MUSE Marc Record: Download for War in the Age of Technology

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Subject Headings

  • Technology -- History -- 19th century.
  • Technology -- History -- 20th century.
  • Technology -- History -- 18th century.
  • Military art and science -- History -- 19th century.
  • Military art and science -- History -- 20th century.
  • War.
  • Military art and science -- History -- 18th century.
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