From an esteemed military historian, a sweeping history of the revolutions in war-fighting that have shaped the modern world
Heraclitus wrote that “war is the father of all,” and it has formed much of the modern world. Although the fundamental nature of war has not altered over the centuries, constant change, innovation, and adaptation have repeatedly reshaped how wars are fought in the West.
In The Dark Path, Williamson Murray examines the social and military revolutions that led the West to global dominance by tracing five revolutions in military practice: • the advent of the modern state, which formed bureaucracies and professional militaries; • the Industrial Revolution, which produced the financial and industrial means to sustain and equip large armies; • the French Revolution, which provided the ideological basis needed to sustain armies through continent-sized wars; • the merging of the Industrial and French Revolutions in the U.S. Civil War; • the accelerating integration of technological advancement, financial capacity, ideology, and government that unleashed the modern capacity for total warfare.
In explaining the forces behind the scale and lethality of warfare in the twenty-first century, Murray shows how the world continually re-creates war—and how war, in turn, continually re-creates the world.
Williamson Murray (1941–2023) was professor emeritus at The Ohio State University and the Ambassador Anthony D. Marshall Chair of Strategic Studies at Marine Corps University. His publications include more than twenty books on major wars, military innovation, and grand strategy.
“Williamson Murray’s book demonstrates why military history should be a major part of any liberal arts curriculum, since he shows with extraordinary narrative detail why war has tragically been central to the story of humanity.”—Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Tragic Mind: Fear, Fate, and the Burden of Power
“A highly important book for anyone seeking a better understanding of the factors that shape the changing character of war.”—Lt. Gen. (retired) Sir John Kiszely, author of Anatomy of a Campaign: The British Fiasco in Norway, 1940
“Williamson Murray was one of America’s most distinguished and insightful scholars of military affairs. In this magisterial book, he brings together his enormous breadth of learning to describe the major military revolutions that have defined the modern world. Informed by a deep sense of realism—even tragedy—this is the kind of book Americans need to consult in an increasingly dangerous world.”—Elbridge A. Colby, author of The Strategy of Denial
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