Review: The Patterns of War Since the Eighteenth Century, by Larry
Addington (Indiana University Press, 1984).
Larry Addington's The
Patterns of War From the Eighteenth Century is an introductory study of
military and naval history from the eighteenth century up to the present (the
Falklands War is the last subject touched on).
This book is far superior to its companion volume, The Patterns of War Through the Eighteenth Century. Addington wrote the book on the modern
period first, and he is clearly much more familiar with this material.
In refreshing contrast to his later work, here
Addington has no pretentions of showing the links between warfare and
society. Instead, he contents himself
with a straightforward narrative history of the major wars of the past two
centuries, as well as commenting on the important technological,
organizational, and doctrinal innovations throughout this period. Social, cultural, and even political
perspective is certainly absent, but Addington does cover all of the major wars
of the West, most in some detail. As is
to be expected, the book is essentially focused on Western European military
history, especially that of Great Britain and the United States -- for
instance, the Boer War is given much more detailed coverage than the
Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, and the post-WWII period is entirely from the
perspective of the United States, with sections titled "The Eisenhower
Years" and "The Vietnam War Era." Obviously intended as a textbook for an introductory military
history class, these biases are to be expected, since American students first
need to know what happened in their own country before worrying about the rest
of the world.
Despite its "American-undergraduate-survey-course"
feel, The Patterns of War does
attempt to acknowledge the world outside Europe and the United States,
especially as it moves into the twentieth century. For instance, the Sino-Japanese War is briefly described, and the
Russo-Japanese War gets rather detailed coverage. Addington gives extensive coverage of the series of Arab-Israeli,
only marginally less than the Vietnam War, in fact (5 pages vs. 7 pages).
In sum, The
Patterns of War Since the Eighteenth Century provides a clearly organized,
adequately-written narrative framework which contains most of the facts which
readers of more ambitious works such as Michael Howard's War in European History are assumed to already know. As such, it is a useful introduction to the
"basics" of military history for students to build upon in later