According to Bell, it was then that warfare was transformed into the hideous spectacle that seems ever present today. Indeed, nearly every modern aspect of war took root in that time: conscription, unconditional surrender, total disregard for the rules of combat, mobilisation of civilians, guerrilla warfare, and the perverse notion of war fought for the sake of peace. The revolutionaries were leading ‘the last crusade for universal liberty’. A war for such stakes could only be apocalyptic – and terribly bloody. With a historian’s keen insight and a journalist’s flair for detail,
FIRST TOTAL WAR Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Modern Warfare
World War I has been called ‘the war to end all wars’, the first time combatants were mobilised on a massive scale to ruthlessly destroy an enemy. But as David A. Bell argues in this tour de force of interpretative history, the Great War was not, in fact, the first total war. For this, we need to travel back to the era of muskets and sailing ships, the age of Napoleon.
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David A. Bell
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Hardback, 432 pages