A masterful 2,500-year overview of the operational aspects of land-based warfare in the West, with appeal for both fans of military history and general readers. Drawing solely on secondary sources, Jones (a former dean at North Dakota State Univ.) starts with the Greeks and Alexander's conquering Macedonians, who achieved greater firepower than their sword, or club-wielding foes with missile weapons--arrows, javelins, slings, et al. In surveying consequential conflicts down through the ages, Jones focuses on tactics (disposition of forces in combat), logistics (supply, support), and military (as opposed to grand sociopolitical) strategy, which determines ends and the means for reaching them. He accords naval battles relatively short shrift, and he seldom strays far from European killing grounds. As one result, WW II's Pacific campaigns are noted only in passing, and the US Civil War is covered mainly in the perspective of contemporary trends on the Continent. Within this context, however, Jones Sheds a great deal of light on the continuities as well as changes that have marked Western warfare since Spartans fought Thebans around 500 B.C. For example, he shows how the Russians' victory over Japanese troops in a 1939 clash at Khalkin Gol, near the Manchurian/Mongolian border, had much in common with Hannibal's besting of the Romans at Cannae. In like vein, Jones comments that the complex designs of modern weaponry create reliability problems akin to those previously experienced by armies newly equipped with the matchlock arquebus. An altogether splendid synthesis. The 708-page text includes a wealth of illustrative material--diagrams, line drawings, schematics, photographs, and tables (not seen).