THE MILITARY EXPERIENCE IN THE AGE OF REASON by Christopher Duffy

THE MILITARY EXPERIENCE IN THE AGE OF REASON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A wide-ranging if circumspect survey of military life--and death--during Europe's enlightened but bellicose 18th century. Sandhurst lecturer Duffy is an authority on Prussia's Frederick the Great, the Voltaire patron and warrior-king who personified many of the era's more striking contradictions. While Diderot's encyclopedists advanced the cause of reason, for instance, their rulers were constantly on the march in Continental and North American venues. Duffy provides a comprehensive overview of how Austria, England, France, Russia, and other powers of the period recruited, trained, and campaigned their armed forces. Drawing on contemporary sources, he offers detailed accounts of the workaday existence of officers, NCOs, and enlisted personnel, not neglecting camp followers. Covered as well are subjects ranging from combat deployments, casualty care, drill regimens, discipline, equipage, uniforms, and logistics through the duties of elite units like the Cossacks, who conducted behind-the-lines raids that contrasted conspicuously with commanders' preference for set-piece infantry battles or cavalry melees. Along his scholarly but seldom pedantic way, Duffy provides a wealth of fascinating trivia. There's also an appendix with summary rundowns on the 18th century's major conflicts and campaigns, including the pivotal Seven Years War, the War of the Bavarian Succession, the French and Indian War, and the War of America, Independence. At the close, however, the author cautions that ""the past is another country,"" leaving conclusions on the universal soldier and the lessons of military history to bolder annalists. A panoramic briefing that amounts to somewhat less than the sum of its engrossing parts.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0203976851
Publisher: Atheneum