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...

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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).

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