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Military History: The Definitive Visual Guide to the Objects of Warfare


Author: DK

Publisher: DK


Publish Date: August 4, 2015

ISBN-10: 1465436081

Pages: 448

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

The development of arms and armaments is central to the story of military history. While the aims and intentions of humans at war have remained essentially the same since the very dawn of civilization, the history of weaponry and tactics has been a process of near-constant adaptation, reinvention, and progression, with the result that battlefield technology has grown increasingly effective, and ever more deadly. The earliest weapons took the form of stone axes and clubs, but, with the adoption of bronze, and then iron, these were improved, developed, and then superseded. Swords, spears, and bows dominated the field of battle from the era of Ancient Egypt and Assyria to the high Middle Ages, until the introduction of gunpowder weapons in Europe in the 14th century. This invention heralded a sea-change in warfare, as human strength was aided and then all but replaced by chemical and mechanical power, a process that accelerated during the Industrial Revolution, with an exponential growth in the range and accuracy of weapon systems, both on land and at sea. War then reached the skies in the early 1900s, expanding the reach of military might across the globe, and, while the advent of the nuclear bomb in 1945 made the prospect of full-scale conflict almost too terrible to contemplate, it did not stop the pace of technological change in conventional arms during the rest of the century. In the modern age, the increasing sophistication of “smart” weapons has heralded a revolution in warfare, and we have reached an era in which human combatants are slowly being replaced by computer-controlled machines.

The following pages offer a beautifully illustrated account of this process, showcasing significant armaments and other military pieces across 5,000 years and a vast geographical range. However, this majestic book—a fruitful collaboration between leading military history writers and expert consultants from the Royal Armouries, the Smithsonian, and other specialist institutions—is much more than simply a catalog of weaponry. It offers gripping accounts of the key battles, landmark events, and historical figures whose legacies have changed the reality of warfare; it explores the role technologies and tactics played in determining the outcome of conflicts; and it charts the impact of these events on the balance of power and boundary, the rise and fall of nation and empire, and on the course of human history.

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