This book covers warfare in the 1700s as the title suggests, and in doing so provides quality reading and a vast amount of information. Dr. Black shows that there were a number of facets to the concept of 18th century warfare. One facet was variety in terms of military traditions and practices as well as how many different kinds of each there were across the globe. Another facet was a lack of technology-driven victory, because there were no real advances in technology that led to triumph in warfare, outside of a little progress in naval warfare. The third facet was the wide range of tactics and organizations that were used and found across the globe.
The structure of the book was not what I expected, but it works very well. It contains chapters that are either thematic or chronological with larger thematic chapters at the beginning and at the end are smaller chronological chapters to encompass the text. In the beginning sections of the book, Black is making an obvious effort to remove the Eurocentric view of the 1700s that is often associated with the warfare. Brief descriptions of each chapter follow.
The first chapter of the book is called “War Without Europeans”. I liked it because it did not start off the book like most did with information about Europeans that everyone already generally knows. The chapter illustrates how the Manchu Empire grew to its heights, how Burma unified and fought against Siam, and, the Safavid State’s decline as well as the Afghan Duranni Empire’s rise, and it also highlights some unrelated battles fought in Africa using Western weaponry. The book begins in the year 1717 with the invasion of Tibet by a Dsungar force, the last Mongol tribe in Central Asia. Using military techniques long abandoned by Europe, Dsgunar’s invasion restored validity to the seemingly out-dated methods.
The second chapter is Europeans Versus Non-Europeans which looks into global colonial warfare and warfare within states in Eastern Europe, in addition to the Ottomans and the British, Dutch, and Portuguese’ warfare with states in South and Southeast Asia. This makes way for European involvement and gives insight to the tensions between Europe and the world, and intercontinental European disputes. This is also where the variety of military tactics and traditions comes to the fore. China had the most populous military and the ability to cover lots of land but the issue was that they did not have artillery and a suitably sized navy. With this realization, Europeans now understood that winning a war was not always a matter of superior weapons, but sometimes about land coverage as well. The Ottomans of Turkey did not have the weaponry that the Europeans had, for they usually fought with arrows and swords with bone or stone tips. But even with this inferior weaponry, their coverage of the land proved to be advantageous. I noted though that Turkey generally fought raid wars and ambushes, but not major battles, and the Ottoman cavalry’s...