What exactly is military history? Forty years ago it meant battles, campaigns, great commanders, drums and trumpets. It was largely the preserve of military professionals and was used to support national history and nationalism. Now, though, the study of war has been transformed by the ‘war and society’ approach, by the examination of identity, memory and gender, and a less Euro-centric and more global perspective. Generally it is recognised that war and conflict must be integrated into the wider narrative of historical development, and this is why Ian Beckett’s research guide is such a useful tool for anyone working in this growing field. It introduces students to all the key debates, issues and resources. While European and global perspectives are not neglected, there is an emphasis on the British experience of war since 1500.
This survey of British military history will be essential reading and reference for anyone who has a professional or amateur interest in the subject, and it will be a valuable introduction for newcomers to it.