from National Security and Defense Program

War Made New

Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

A sweeping, epic history that ranges from the defeat of the Spanish Armada to the war on terrorism, War Made New is a provocative new vision of the rise of the modern world through the lens of warfare. Acclaimed author Max Boot explores how innovations in weaponry and tactics have not only transformed how wars are fought and won but also have guided the course of human events, from the formation of the first modern states, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, to the coming of al-Qaeda.

Boot argues that the past five centuries of history have been marked not by gradual change in how we fight but instead by four revolutions in military technology—and that the nations who have successfully mastered these revolutions have gained the power to redraw the map of the world. Boot brings these moments of transformation to vivid life through gripping combat scenes.

The New York Times

For the Gunpowder Age, he argues that firearm technology brought from China shattered the ritualized combat of the Middle Ages as innovators such as Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus and the Duke of Wellington incorporated artillery and cavalry in new ways, leading to the rise of the Western powers. Exploring the Industrial Revolution, Boot discusses how breakthrough inventions such as the steam engine led to a rapid mechanization of fighting technology in the mid-nineteenth century and terrifying new levels of bloodshed, from the Prussian victory over the Austrian Empire at the Battle of Koniggratz to the newly industrialized Japanese navy's devastation of the Russian fleet at Tsushima. For the Second Industrial Revolution, Boot focuses on how the oil-driven combustion engine and the advent of combat aviation culminated in the battlefield breakthroughs of World War Two, from the German blitzkrieg of France to the American firebombing of Tokyo, which would lead to the rise of global superpowers.

Brilliantly crafted.
The Wall Street Journal

War Made New concludes with the ongoing Information Revolution, beginning with the Gulf War in 1991. Boot describes how the use of precision-guided missiles along with stealth planes and cruise missiles granted the United States critical advantage over enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also looks at how the world's last superpower can combat the asymmetric tactics of groups such as al-Qaeda.

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Defense Technology

Wars and Conflict

United States

A stirring analysis of the last five hundred years of warfare, War Made New will forever change our understanding of the forces shaping human civilization.

A Council on Foreign Relations Book

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Defense Technology

Wars and Conflict

United States

Reviews and Endorsements

Crisp... Boot found many persuasive things to say about how changes in military technology and management affected the course of European and world history ... Novel and convincing... Admirably clear and concise... I learned a lot... Well-written.

William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books

By [one] of our most accomplished commentators on military affairs... Wise... Graphic... Boot provides a vivid and engaging mix of historical narrative and analysis, showing the bloody real-world results of abstract decision-making about the nature and degree of a country's military preparedness.... [A] fine book... We are fortunate to have clear-headed analysts like ... Boot, who turn to history rather than technology to provide answers for the future.... Deeply informed.

Victor Davis Hanson, Commentary


The Washington Times

Splendid history... Fascinating insights for those seeking to understand how the U.S. military got where it is today: namely, bogged down in Iraq.... Could well help Washington avoid similar conflicts in the futureor at least handle them better if they do occur... Sweeping.

Foreign Affairs

[An] unusual and magisterial survey of technology and war. ... Illuminating.

Josiah Bunting, New York Times Book Review

A fascinating look at the complicated relationship between warfare and technological development by a master historian.

Barry Gewen,

Refreshingly novel ... Mr. Boot is an insightful observer of the profession of arms. ... Mr. Boot takes a daringand successfultack in approaching his subject; rather than attempt to be exhaustively comprehensive, he treats battles like lily pads, jumping from one to the next in quick succession across the pond of history. ... Mr. Boot is a penetrating writer and thinker, and his opinions are influential in military circles. ... Brilliantly crafted history.

Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales, The Wall Street Journal

Superb. ... Mr. Boot's historical sections, commencing with the Spanish armada and marching briskly through four centuries of organized mayhem, can be enjoyed even by the reader who is aware of the broad parameters of the conflicts he describes. But what is utterly fascinating is Mr. Boot's section on what is happening now in modernizing the battle field.

Joe Goulden, The Washington Times

[Boot] is, all hyperbole aside, a modern-day Thucydides, telling the story of war and why it matters. In this rich and highly readable tome, he focuses on four revolutions in technology and doctrine. ... Boot is not only an excellent historian, but also an excellent writer.Furthermore, he explains the implications not just for armed conflict, but also for military and political alliances, coronations, and redrawn boundaries around the globe. ... Based on his thorough understanding of military history.

Mark Yost, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Max Boot traces the impact of military revolutions on the course of politics and history over the past 500 years. In doing so, he shows that changes in military technology are limited not to war fighting alone, but play a decisive role in shaping our world. Sweeping and erudite, while entirely accessible to the lay reader, this work is key for anyone interested in where military revolutions have taken usand where they might lead in the future.

U.S. Senator John McCain

Meticulously researched … A timely and important work, providing an excellent thumbnail sketch of the sometimes simultaneous strokes of genius, luck, and technological smarts that kings and generals have used for centuries to best their enemies in the field.

Christian Science Monitor

Sweeping. ... Extraordinary. ... Boot's magisterial grasp of the long trend lines of history is impressive and compelling. ... War Made New is an ambitious effort that ultimately succeeds in capturing the general sweep of history. ... The product of prodigious research and concise analysis. ... Engaging.

Frank Hoffman, Armed Forces Journal

War Made New is a tour-de-force of warfare over the past half-millennium.... It is fast-paced and reads like a novel. Boot grabs the readers and causes him or her to turn the page to find out what happened next. This is not only essential reading for anyone who is a serious student of warfare, technology, and the like, but for anyone wanting to know what has made the world unfold the way it has over the past five centuries.

Capt. George Galdorisi, U.S. Navy (Retired), Naval Institute Proceedings

I really enjoyed reading it. Boot is a fantastic writer who eloquently describes the march of military history from the 15th century to the present day, using vignettes like the British drubbing the Spanish Armada in 1588 and Japan's smashing of the Russian fleet in 1905 to illustrate certain key points.

Philip Carter, Slate

While of substantial length (624 pages), it is so well written and so full of information and insight that was new to me that it didn't seem long enough. ... War Made New is one of those books that had me saying, 'Ah hah, now I understand,' over and over again.

John Steele Gordon, American Heritage

Max Boot provides both facts and a deeper examination of causes, producing an interesting, readable and compelling examination of military transformations throughout history.

Military Times

The subject of military transformation is one that is difficult to make interestingsome think it impossiblebut the book is not just interesting, it is compelling.


The Atlantic Monthly


The Weekly Standard

[A] fascinating analysis of the role of technology in warfare. ...He makes a convincing case that history's winners take advantage of technological shifts to gain the upper hand on the battlefield. Boot sorts through the clutter of military historythe traditional accounts of battles and strategies, winners and losersand discovers big themes that explain the whys of victory and defeat in modern warfare. ... Vivid character sketches. ... War Made New bristles with insights and succinct arguments. Boot, a military historian and defense analyst who previously worked as an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal, impressively combines an expert's knowledge with a wordsmith's skills.

Mobile (Alabama) Register

If you take military history seriously, you'll simply devour this book.

Military Book Club

Mr. Boot is ably filling the role occupied for many years by John Keegan, the famed British author of classics like The Face of War and The Mask of Command. Both use a similar approach: Illustrate broad military trends with specific examples, and embed the analysis in an entertaining historical narrative accompanied by commentary. Fans of Mr. Keegan's will enjoy Mr. Boot.

Bruce Berkowitz, New York Sun

Max Boot has the intellectual audacity and meticulous scholarship to rearrange the kaleidoscope of military history. War Made New is a classic that must be savored.... A wonderful book, combining impressive scholarship and keen insights. It is not possible to read this book without stopping every twenty or so pages to say, 'I didn't know that,' and without frequently pausing to reflect on the future.

Bing West, Marine Corps Gazette

It's not only a terrific read; it's a cheap education on how, for half a millennium, machines made war and war made machines. The research is impressive, the judgments are soundand Max Boot's a strong, clear writer. ... This is a book for both the general reader and reading generals.

Ralph Peters, New York Post

Boot has bitten off a big chunk of history. But thanks to his knowledge of the facts and his skill in setting them down, he has served up a first-class book.

St. Louis Post Dispatch

A dazzling history of war.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Readable and informative, this book provides a valuable overview of how military innovations can abruptly affect the course of history. Highly recommended.

Library Journal

From bronze cannons to smart bombs, this engaging study examines the impact of new weaponry on war by spotlighting exemplary battles, including famous epics like the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the attack on Pearl Harbor along with obscure clashes like the 1898 Battle of Omdurman, in which a British colonial force mowed down Sudanese tribesmen with machine guns. Boot (The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and The Rise of American Power) gives due weight to social context: advanced weapons don't spell victory unless accompanied by good training and leadership; innovative doctrine; an efficient, well-funded bureaucracy; and a 'battle culture of forbearance' that eschews warrior ferocity in favor of a soldierly ethos of disciplined stoicism under fire. These factors flourish, he contends, under a rationalist, progressive Western mindset. The author, a journalist, and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, enlivens his war stories with profiles of generals from Gustavus Adolphus to Norman Schwarzkopf and splashes of blood and guts. Boot distills 500 years of military history into a well-paced, insightful narrative.

Publishers Weekly

Max Boot's War Made New condenses the evolution of Western warfare from the Renaissance to the present into a single readable and entertaining volume.

Geoffrey Wawro, History Book Club

While much has been written in recent years about the so-called 'Revolution in Military Affairs,' Max Boot is the first scholar to place it within the broad sweep of history, and in the context of the rise of the West in world affairs since 1500. In so doing, he not only tells a remarkable tale, but he compels us all, even those obsessed solely with contemporary military affairs, to ask the right questions and to distinguish what is truly new and revolutionary from what is merely ephemeral. He has rendered a valuable service, and given us a fascinating read at the same time, so we are doubly in his debt.

Paul Kennedy, Professor of History at Yale University and author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

War Made New is impressive in scope. What is equally impressive is its unique interpretation of the causal relationship between technology, warfare and the contemporary social milieu. This is a superb thinking-person's book, which scrutinizes conventional historical wisdom through a new lens.

Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor, USMC (ret.), coauthor of Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq

Max Boot's book takes hundreds of years of tactical battle history and reduces it to an incisive narrative of how war has changed. By providing such a coherent view of the past, he has pointed us toward the future. What is doubly impressive is how he draws surprising, fresh lessons from wars we thought we knew so much about but in fact didn't.

Robert D. Kaplan, author of Imperial Grunts

From Drake's ships harrying the Armada up the Channel to U.S. Special Forces deploying in the mountains of Afghanistan, Boot's narrative takes the widest possible view, yet it always crackles with fascinating detail and swift, adept character sketches. Drawing examples from scores of battlefields, War Made New shows how nations have seized technological opportunities, or failed to do so at the steepest imaginable cost. Boot makes events from the dawn of the gunpowder era as immediate to contemporary America as is the threat of terrorist attack, all the while telling a story as enthralling as it is significant.

Richard Snow, Editor, American Heritage

A powerful tome.

History Wire

Excellent. ... Cogent and compelling, War Made New should be required reading for anyone dealing with military issues.

Tom Miller,

Boot provides a sweeping, accessible narrative.

National Review

Boot's detail-packed discussion of the impact of military revolutions on the course of modern history makes War Made New one of the most provocative, thought-stimulating books in recent memory.

The Editors,

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