War in Europe began with the first human migrants. Rival bands fought for thousands of years before the Greeks and Romans began writing about their military history, first as legend—for instance, the hero Achilles battling the Trojans—and then as fact. War developed from sticks and stones to bronze, iron, and steel, including armor and edged weapons. Then came gunpowder, guns, and cannons, which eventually replaced edged weapons. Finally, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, technology exploded: railroads, steamships, telegraphs, machine guns, automobiles, airplanes, and tanks enabled European states to muster, equip, arm, transport, and command more men than ever before, with more firepower than ever before. In the past seventy-five years, atomic weapons changed the military landscape of Europe—as have the internet and cyber warfare.
In this colorful new telling of European warfare—and indeed European history through the continent’s all too numerous wars and conflicts—William Nester describes millennia of armed conflict. He covers the “greatest hits” of military history both ancient and current: Thermopylae, the Peloponnesian War, the wars of the Roman Empire across the continent, the Battle of Hastings, the Crusades, Agincourt, Waterloo, Napoleon and Wellington, the Somme, the Spanish Civil War, Stalingrad and Normandy, Churchill, Hitler, and Stalin, Bosnia, and up through Putin’s attempts to redraw the map of Europe. Nester highlights how warfare has been deeply entwined with European statesmanship and undergirds modern institutions such as NATO and the European Union. Europe’s sense of itself is bound up in its military history.
Land of War is an epic odyssey from Europe’s mythic origins through its latest violent conflicts.
William Nester is a professor at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. He has written more than two dozen books on global politics/power and the history of warfare, including books about Europe’s colonial wars in North America, Napoleon, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles De Gaulle, and Winston Churchill. His book George Rogers Clark: “I Glory in War” received a 2013 Distinguished Writing Award from the Army Historical Foundation; bestselling author Douglas Brinkley praised it as “an important contribution to early U.S. history.”