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25 Remote Warehouse World History- European History General

The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society Since A.D. 1000


The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society Since A.D. 1000 Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this magnificent synthesis of military, technological, and social history, William H. McNeill explores a whole millennium of human upheaval and traces the path by which we have arrived at the frightening dilemmas that now confront us. McNeill moves with equal mastery from the crossbow—banned by the Church in 1139 as too lethal for Christians to use against one another—to the nuclear missile, from the sociological consequences of drill in the seventeenth century to the emergence of the military-industrial complex in the twentieth. His central argument is that a commercial transformation of world society in the eleventh century caused military activity to respond increasingly to market forces as well as to the commands of rulers. Only in our own time, suggests McNeill, are command economies replacing the market control of large-scale human effort. The Pursuit of Power does not solve the problems of the present, but its discoveries, hypotheses, and sheer breadth of learning do offer a perspective on our current fears and, as McNeill hopes, "a ground for wiser action."

"No summary can do justice to McNeill's intricate, encyclopedic treatment. . . . McNeill's erudition is stunning, as he moves easily from European to Chinese and Islamic cultures and from military and technological to socio-economic and political developments. The result is a grand synthesis of sweeping proportions and interdisciplinary character that tells us almost as much about the history of butter as the history of guns. . . . McNeill's larger accomplishment is to remind us that all humankind has a shared past and, particularly with regard to its choice of weapons and warfare, a shared stake in the future."—Stuart Rochester, Washington Post Book World

"Mr. McNeill's comprehensiveness and sensitivity do for the reader what Henry James said that Turgenev's conversation did for him: they suggest 'all sorts of valuable things.' This narrative of rationality applied to irrational purposes and of ingenuity cannibalizing itself is a work of clarity, which delineates mysteries. The greatest of them, to my mind, is why human beings have never learned to cherish their own species."—Naomi Bliven, The New Yorker


Shows the interrelatedness of technical, military, political, and economic history and examines the changes introduced by the industrialization of war.

About the Author

William H. McNeill is the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Chicago. His many books include Plagues and Peoples; Venice: The Hinge of Europe, 1081-1797; The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, which received the National Book Award; Mythistory and Other Essays; and, most recently, History of Western Civilization: A Handbook.

Table of Contents


1. Arms and Society in Antiquity

2. The Era of Chinese Predominance, 1000-1500

Market and Command in Medieval China

Market Mobilization beyond China's borders

3. The Business of War in Europe, 1000-1600

Pioneering the Business of War in Northern Italy

The Gunpowder Revolution and the Rise of Atlantic Europe

The Market Asserts Control

4. Advances in Europe's Art of War, 1600-1750

Geographical Spread

Improvements in the Control of Armies

Standardization and Quasi-Stabilization of European Armed Forces

5. Strains on Europe's Bureaucratization of Violence, 1700-1789

Disequilibrium Arising from Frontier Expansion

Challenges Arising from Deliberate Reorganization

6. The Military Impact of the French Political and the British Industrial Revolutions, 1789-1840

The French Formula for Relieving Population Pressure

The British Variant

Postwar Settlement, 1815-40

7. The Initial Industrialization of War, 1840-84

Commercial and National Armaments Rivalries

A New Paradigm: The Prussian Way of War

Global Repercussions

8. Intensified Military-Industrial Interaction, 1884-1914

Decay of Britain's Strategic Position

Emergence of the Military-Industrial Complex in Great Britain

Naval Armament and the Politicization of Economics

The Limits of Rational Design and Management

International Repercussions

9. World Wars of the Twentieth Century

Balance of Power and Demography in World Wars I and II

Managerial Metamorphosis in World War I: First Phase, 1914-16

Managerial Metamorphosis in World War I: Second Phase, 1916-18

Interwar Reaction and Return to Managed Economies during World War II

10. The Arms Race and Command Economies since 1945



Product Details

McNeill, William H.
University of Chicago Press
McNeill, William H.
McNeill, William
Chicago, IL
Military Science
History & Theory
Military art and science
World politics
Western Europe
Military history, Modern
Military history, Medieval
Western Europe - General
World History-European History General
Military - General
Edition Number:
Pbk. ed.
Edition Description:
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
8.50x5.58x1.10 in. 1.08 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » General
History and Social Science » World History » European History General
Reference » Science Reference » Technology

The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society Since A.D. 1000 New Trade Paper
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Product details 416 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226561585 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Shows the interrelatedness of technical, military, political, and economic history and examines the changes introduced by the industrialization of war.
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