Battlefield - Decisive Conflicts in History

By: Holmes, Richard

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Battlefield - Decisive Conflicts in History by Holmes, Richard ( Ed. )
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Oxford Ox2 6dp United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2006. 376 pages index maps b/w photos - Richard Holmes has a sure touch as an author of military history and this book sits well with its partner The Oxford Companion to Military History also edited by him. To some extent the format and content are not new. The decisive battles of history are placed in their military, geographic and chronological context and we are given the latest interpretations of each battle. Excellent recent scholarly books on a number of battles, not least Crecy, Agincourt, The Somme, and Loos have added much to our understanding of these battles and are reflected in the battlefield explanations in this book. There should be few objections to the 300 battles chosen as `decisive'. Each chapter is introduced with a summary of the military conditions that imposed on the battlefields of the era. The shift in technology and tactics is discussed and placed in the political context that the battles sought to solve. Richard Holmes suggested that his intention was to produce more than just a dictionary of battles and the book succeeds in that respect due to the personal and incisive comment that we expect from him. It is primarily a reference book and the test of such a book is how often it is used. Within two hours of receiving it I was using it to cross reference, and suspect that will continue to happen. As with all such books a mark of success is the ability to enthuse the reader to seek out more detailed reading and research and in that context the excellent Further Reading list is a well constructed route map. Previous similar books have concentrated on region (e.g. Chandler on Europe) or timescale (e.g. Calvert/Young 1715-1815 etc) but this book adds to the library by virtue of being inclusive. This book is a good resource and should also be a useful starting point for the general reader seeking a structured advance into military history. Mike McCarthy Editor, "The Battle Guide" Guild of Battlefield Guides. . First Edition. Buckram. New/New.

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