Looking for a Solid Textbook on Warfare, which covers the period 1400 to the Present

Vincent Patarino's picture


     I have not taught a section of History of Modern Warfare to my undergraduate students for about six years now.  The course has a broad base, focusing on the ways that warfare in the West affected society on the one hand, and on the other, how developments in society and technology impacted war.  Years ago, I used Keegans History of Warfare and then moved to a more pricey textbook.  I also experimented with not using any textbook at all one year.  My goal is to adopt a text that is available on multiple platforms, but will settle for one that is historiographically sound and takes into account the various social and technological transitions during the period c. 1400-2000.   Any suggestions on the part of colleagues would be greatly appreciated. 

Vincent V. Patarino Jr., Ph.D.

Colorado Mesa University 

May I humbly suggest my own Waging War: Conflict, Culture and Innovation in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015, which covers MORE than that, but is global in approach. It is historiographically up to date and fully footnoted.

I teach a Conflict in World History (actually from the Bronze age to WWII) and have for years. I use Morillo's War in World History (the second volume runs from 1500). It's excellent and really a "world" history. If you are mostly European and mostly operational, its not a good choice.

I'm developing a similar course for the winter and I'm keen to know what others recommend. I've settled on using Geoffrey Parker, ed., The Cambridge History of Warfare, 2nd ed. In addition, I'm assigning Keegan's The Face of Battle as it is very readable and has some very good sections. I also considered, but chose not to use, Perilous Glory by John France. Another book I considered is Wayne Lee's second edition of Warfare and Culture in World History. It's very good, but the scope was a little too expansive for my course which focusses on the west.
Mike Bechthold, PhD
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, ON Canada

Anthony Saunders published a book titled "Trench Warfare 1850–1950" via Pen & Sword Military (August 19, 2010)

It is on Amazon.com here:

The following is from Mr. Saunder's Facebook site for the book:


Trench Warfare 1850–1950
Although many books have been published about the Western Front, few of them consider trench warfare in a wider historical context. Trench warfare was part of an upheaval in warfare which started in the 1850s and continued well beyond the First World War.

Trench Warfare 1850–1950 examines the evolution of trench warfare, technologically and tactically, from the Crimean War to the Korean War. It discusses the impact of trench warfare on military thinking and considers how the stalemate of the Western Front of the First World War was overcome. Emergent technologies, from the hand grenade to the tank, are discussed to highlight their impact on trench warfare and, ultimately, on warfare as a whole. Tactically, trench warfare led to the development of the concept of deep battle which subsequently formed the basis of tactics of all armies and which was used most successfully by the Red Army in the Second World War.

The Korean War saw a revival of the sort of trench warfare that had dominated the Western Front 1914–18.

Finally, the book puts trench warfare into a historical context and considers how it arose and whether it still has role in modern warfare.

Select bibliography – warfare, trench warfare, munitions, experience of war

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