Review Corner: “The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe”

30 Sep

The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe. Edited by Clifford J. Rogers. Westview Press, Oxford. 1995. ISBN: 0813320534. Tables. Figures. Notes. Index. Pp. xi. 387.

 Reviewed By Simon S. Sundaraj-Keun

            The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe edited by Clifford J. Rogers is a book on the evolution of military technology, tactics, and doctrine in early modern Europe. Clifford J. Rogers, a historian with a Olin Fellow in Military and Strategic History at Yale University is an expert and has published numerous articles on military history.

            This book is a collection of articles written from different perspectives by several prominent historians like Jeremy Black to John A. Lynn who analyzes and discusses on the ‘Theory of Military Revolution’ in early modern Europe. Rogers’ thesis is to describe the evolutionary military transformation that shaped Europe into an imperial power. It was also scholarly written in order to provide a collection of excellent argument by focusing on the authors’ responses to the topic.

            Rogers begins the book by criticizing mainstream historians lack of interest in ‘Military Revolution’ by emphasizing more research on economic and social affairs. The book discusses extensively on the time period, the mid-sixteenth through the mid-seventeenth centuries, from where the term ‘Military Revolution’ originated. The essays written by Rogers, Black, and others explore the development of scientific, technological, and technical aspect within the early modern European militaries.

            The book also highlights the advantages of centralize states like France Louis XIV and Sweden Gustavus Adolphus in modernizing its national armies as military and political objectives intertwined with one another. Articles by Lynn and others suggest the phenomenal military growth were directly link to the state economy. For example funding received from taxes contributed to enormous defensive fortification in Mantua and offensive advancement in naval gunship technology within the Portuguese fleet. This book also states that the European military innovations and doctrines achieve tremendous success against non-western nations.

            Rogers’s book does not have a bibliography or appendix section but it contains an index section. The editor, did assembled the best military historians of the period to produce a collection of brilliantly written articles which included cited sources in its individual notes section after every essay. Historians who contributed to this book used primary and secondary sources from a variety of European archives, journals and documents. It also included statistical tables on casualties, mobilizations, and production outputs. Plus the book has genealogy and fortifications figures that would make the reader find it interesting. This book however does make up for its non-existing images and illustration by being highly informative by demonstrating to the reader how a controversial topic could be debated by academic professionals in an intellectual manner.

            The strength of this book was in the multiple military historians that offered a contemporary and intellectual strategic analysis on the qualities of transcontinental evaluation of military affairs. Roger’s thesis successfully analyzes the impact of social change on the conduct of war, concepts of discipline, and hierarchy structures in European military. I strongly recommend The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe edited by Clifford J. Rogers to military historians, scholars, and enthusiasts in general.


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