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The Oxford History of Modern War

New Updated Edition

Edited by Charles Townshend

Publication Date - September 2005

ISBN: 9780192806451

432 pages

Comprehensive history of war from the 17th century to the present day, presenting the best historical research to the general reader


According to General J.F.C. Fuller, "the musket made the infantryman and the infantryman made the democrat." In short, modern war and modern society are inextricably linked. But how has war changed over the centuries?
This highly informative and engaging work investigates the techniques, technology, and theory of warfare. From the military revolution of the seventeenth century to the present day battalion of high-tech weaponry and satellite technology, expert contributors explore major developments and themes, including air and sea warfare, combat experience, technology, and opposition to war. Specific topics include the extraordinary achievements of Napoleon's armies, the role of nationalism in battlegrounds, colonial wars, and the concept of "total war." One thought-provoking essay points out that today's armies face an range of low-intensity conflicts--from civil protests to domestic terrorism--that can not be won by any purely military approach. As a result, the military professionalism that evolved to foster modern war is beginning to erode.
Highlighting a wide range of information with expert insights and historical analysis, The Oxford History of Modern War leaves no aspect of modern warfare unexplored. This volume will fascinate everyone from casual readers and history buffs, to scholars, political thinkers, and historians.


  • The classic introduction to the history of modern warfare, from the invention of firearms to the dawn of the twenty-first century
  • Covers all aspects of war, from the 'military revolution' of the seventeenth century to air warfare, the experience of combat to pacifism
  • New edition brings the story into the twenty-first century, addressing the dilemmas posed by international terrorism and the invasion of Iraq

About the Author(s)

Charles Townshend is Professor of International History at Keele University and the author of numerous books on warfare, including: Making the Peace: Public Order and Public Security in Modern Britain (1993) and Ireland: the Twentieth Century (1999).


"This book, which is an excellent overview of the topic, consists of a series of well-integrated essays."--Professor John Rosser, Boston College

"[Charles Townshend's] name ensures the quality of a book under his editorship... He has also found a creative means to explore a very large subject."--Daily Telegraph

"Adopts a refreshing analytical format...[A] readable and substantial survey, [with] stimulating text."--Diplomacy and Statecraft

"This volume bursts with stunning insights..."--Edmonton Journal

Table of Contents

    Part I: The Evolution of Modern War
    1. Introduction: The Shape of Modern War, Charles Townshend
    2. The Military Revolution I: The Transition to Modern Warfare, John Childs
    3. The Military Revolution II: Eighteenth Century Warfare, Jeremy Black
    4. The Nation in Arms I: The French Wars, Alan Forrest
    5. The Nation in Arms II: The Nineteenth Century, David French
    6. Imperial Wars: From the Seven Years War to the First World War, Douglas Porch
    7. Total War I: The Great War, John Bourne
    8. Total War II: The Second World War, Richard Overy
    9. Cold War, Philip Towle
    10. People's War, Charles Townshend
    Part II: Elements of Modern War
    11. Technology and War I: to 1945, Martin van Creveld
    12. Battle: The Experience of Modern Combat, Richard Holmes
    13. Sea Warfare, John B. Hattendorf
    14. Air Warfare, Richard Overy
    15. War and the People: The Social Impact of Total War, Mark Roseman
    16. Women and War, Jean Bethke Elshtain
    17. Against War, Adam Roberts
    18. Technology and War II: From Nuclear Stalemate to Terrorism, Martin van Creveld