Whatever Works

Perilous Glory
The Rise of Western Military Power
John France
Yale University Press, $35, 447 pp.

The West Point military historian John France has written a magisterial overview of warfare from ancient times to today, seeking to explain why and how modern warfare as practiced in the West proved so dominant. The central thesis of his book is that the brutally successful “Western way of war” resulted not from efficiency, individualism, or any other internal value of democratic societies, but rather from situational exigencies and opportunities. France rejects...

The remainder of this article is only available to paid subscribers.

Print subscribers to Commonweal are entitled to free access to all premium online content. Click here to purchase a print subscription, or if you’re already a print subscriber, register now for premium access.

Online-only subscriptions provide access to all premium online articles for just $34/year or $2.95/month. Click here to subscribe.

Registered users, please log in below:

Or log in with...


About the Author

Jonathan Stevenson is a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College and author of Thinking Beyond the Unthinkable: Harnessing Doom from the Cold War to the Age of Terror (Viking).

Also by this author