Pursuit of Power Technology, Armed Force, and Society since A. D. 1000

ISBN-10: 0226561585
ISBN-13: 9780226561585
Edition: 1984 (Reprint)
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $29.00
Copyright year: 1984
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 9/15/1984
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 416
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.50" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.364
Language: English

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

Born in Canada, William H. McNeill was chairman of the Department of History at the University of Chicago and one of the editors of the Readings in World History Series published by Oxford University Press. His one-volume "A World History," which gives equal space to Asia and the West, was greeted as a work of major importance by such recognized historians as Arnold Toynbee, Hans Kohn, Geoffrey Bruun, Stringfellow Barr, and John Barkham. Toynbee has acclaimed McNeill's "The Rise of the West," which took nine years to write, as "the most lucid presentation of world history in narrative form that I know." It won the 1963 National Book Award for history and the Gordon J. Laing Prize of the University of Chicago.

Preface
Arms and Society in Antiquity
The Era of Chinese Predominance, 1000-1500 Market and Command in Medieval China Market Mobilization beyond China's borders
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
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
Strains on Europe's Bureaucratization of Violence, 1700-1789 Disequilibrium Arising from Frontier Expansion Challenges Arising from Deliberate Reorganization
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
The Initial Industrialization of War, 1840-84 Commercial and National Armaments Rivalries A New Paradigm: The Prussian Way of War Global Repercussions
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
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
The Arms Race and Command Economies since 1945
Conclusion
Index

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