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War in European History

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  321 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
First published over thirty years ago, War in European History is a brilliantly written survey of the changing ways that war has been waged in Europe, from the Norse invasions to the present day. Far more than a simple military history, the book serves as a succinct and enlightening overview of the development of European society as a whole over the last millennium. From t ...more
Paperback, 171 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published July 22nd 1976)
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This is a relatively famous tract on how war has affected European history since the Middle Ages. It was first published in 1976, but republished in 2009 with an added epilogue by the author. But you should take the author's advice at the beginning of his epilogue: "This book is about 'War in European History'; not 'The History of War,' so the reader should not expect a survey of warfare...". In other words, don't be looking for lengthy tales of great battles or detailed biographies of military ...more
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, history
This book was perfectly phenomenal. In 144 pages, Howard packed in so much, without making it appear over-packed. 1,000 years of warfare, with all the attendant strategies, tactics, and developments, are presented in a readable and thorough fashion, without coming across as simplistic or factoid laden. Howard finished the book in 2001 (I’m thinking in the pre-9/11 2001) and in the last page he nailed some of the major issues the world would be dealing with in the early stages of the 21st century ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. It was on Fareed Zakaria's book of the week list which is why I read it. The book's value is its perspective on how technological, social, and economic factors shaped war in Europe. What would I would like to find is a similar book or essay on both European and Asian warfare. It is all too common for analysts to make generalizations on the 'inevitable' course of history based on European events, only to have them contradicted by Asian history. If anyone knows of such a book please le ...more
Gary Klein
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an outstanding survey of war from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The title may lead one to believe this book is all about the military, but Michael Howard does an outstanding job weaving together political, economic, social, and military developments. The book does start off rather slow in the first chapter "War of the Knights," but after that, it picks up quickly.
Данило Судин
Оцінюючи цю книжку, я вагався, кому ставити оцінку - лише автору, чи і перекладачу також. Робота останнього вражає "перлинами" перекладацької майстерності: і Карл Лисий (замість Карла Сміливого - Bold), і Густавус Адольфус (замість Густав Адольф), і династія Васа (замість Ваза), і неперевершена французька кузина (замість кухні - cuisisne). Проте я все ж вирішив, що оцінку треба ставити автору.

І мушу образу зазначити: попри невеликий обсяг, автор подає дуже цілісну і глибоку картину розвитку вій
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, history
Howard gives a broad outline of war in European history, therefore he chose a good title. He covers from just after the fall of Rome through present day, all in less then 150 pages. A good survey of the period that is more then just a military history, Howard shows how society has been changed by warfare and how changes in society have been reflected in military developments as well. The book was originally written in 1976, this updated version was published last year and has been updated to inc ...more
Ted Gault
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very brief but concise overview of developmental trends in warfare from the Dark Ages to the modern era (although there is a tapering off of analysis post 9/11). Really, Howard could not have done a better job of taking complex military developments and breaking them down to their absolute bare essentials within a socio-economic and geopolitical context. It's really unfair of me, but I docked one star because while this book is an introduction to European warfare, it also assumes a fair knowledg ...more
Ben Sweezy
Oct 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ben by: PWAD 50
And I have now read this 3 times. It is a great book to have around. ACtually this time I re-read it in tandem with my course pack notes from a military history class senior year, as well as with my Atlas of World Military History. This is great stuff. Even though this is only restricted to Europe, it gives you compelling trends and explains why certain shifts in warfare happened. It is a great companion to more specific or broad histories which overlap with this period.

I greatly enjoy the combi
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
Howard's little book on European military history is still a classic in the field. Although some of this minor contentions are revised, he wrote at a time when historians revised our notion of the "Feudal age" as a monolithic period—he attends to subtle differences in the political and economic systems of Western Europe during the Middle Ages.

Howard offers a chronological and thematic reading of major shifts in military thought and practice from the mounted knight to nuclear war. Weighing in at
Joseph Stieb
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is probably the best history book under 200 pages that I've ever read. Howard divides up European military history into a series of ages in concise but rich prose. This isn't a thesis driven book, but it does provide an eagle-eyed scope on European history and war, focusing on the interaction of society, politics, economics, thought, and war. It's remarkable just how differently societies have organized themselves to wage war within this time span. I highly recommend this book to any s ...more
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cz
Howard plynule popsal fenomén války od začátku věků až do poloviny 20. století. Plynule navazující kapitoly, kdy se Howard nezabývá detaily ale vývojem válečnictví. Nejedná se o klasickou bitvologii, naopak Howard hodnotí válku z mnoha pohledů od ekonomického, sociálního a psychologického. Už jen názvy kapitol války rytířů, žoldnéřů, války obchodníků, války národů dokazuje, že autor propojuje znalosti mnoha oborů a předkládá čtenáři velmi celistvé a úplné čtení.
Zachary Moore
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good summary treatment of the historical development of war from the Middle Ages to today. Most of the chapters are about twenty pages long and the reader not familiar with the general outline of European history might be confused by the rapid mention of figures, conflicts and states with which they might not be aware. I couldn't be sure how much of the book's content was new as I had come across similar points before in other sources, but it is certainly a good reference work.
Matt Ely
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
A quick, readable overview of the primary elements that forced Western armies to change military tactics and equipment from the medieval period to present. Great for getting a basic idea of the foundation of so much that is now common without getting too deep into detail that may not be relevant. Great in drawing attention to the things we still use today that have traditions from centuries ago and how they've adapted to new economies and cultures.
Trashy Pit
Excellent little overview of warfare in European history. Covers some 8 centuries in a book you can read in a day. This kind of summarization can only be pulled off by someone who is really knowledgeable about their subject matter, and this guy pulls it off. A pleasure to read. Europe looks pretty peaceful today, but take a look at its history!
Apr 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very quick look at warfare from knights to nukes. Not enough room for more than a brief listing of major revolutions in military affairs and some of the social, political, and economic causes and effects, but still a good review of the big picture.
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very useful, mostly well-written

As a relatively new amateur student of history I found this book very informative and fun to read I did find the sentence structure sometimes to be a little over-complicated.
Tim Stretton
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title accurately encapsulates the matter of the book. What it doesn't note is that it does the job in only 140 pages of cultured and lucid prose. Not a word is wasted and, if this is a subject which interests you, Howard's work is a must-read.
Jeffrey Cavanaugh
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An examination of the cultural, economic, and political forces that have shaved warfare over the past 500 years of European history. Well written and well paced, Howard's book is a good introduction to the subject.
May 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What I read is a Chinese version of the book from 1976.
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very quick and enjoyable read on the basic socio-technological-economic progression of armies and warfare throughout European history.
Oct 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compact! Every sentence matters. Good for a general understanding of war in Europe.
Erlich Lõwi
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, non-fiction
An outstanding overview that skillfully manages to condense 1000 years of European military history into less than 200 pages.
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent overview, focusing particularly on the interaction between military technology and strategy of countries and their political and social conditions.
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Francesco Finucci
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May 07, 2012
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Will Bass
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Apr 24, 2016
M.J. Kephart
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Sir Michael Eliot Howard, OM, CH, CBE, MC, FBA, is a British military historian, formerly Chichele Professor of the History of War, Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University, Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University, and founder of the Department of War Studies, King's College London.
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