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The First Total War - Napoleons Europe and the Birth of Modern Warfare epub ebook

by BELL DAVID A.

The First Total War - Napoleons Europe and the Birth of Modern Warfare epub ebook

Author: BELL DAVID A.
Category: Engineering
Language: English
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2001)
ISBN: 0747579628
ISBN13: 978-0747579625
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 484
Other formats: mobi lit txt lrf


Throughout David Bell’s book The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe .

Throughout David Bell’s book The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It, the author explores the origins and rise of modern military tactics and warfare. This type of warfare, as he explains, differed quite significantly from the fighting techniques devised and implemented prior to the French Revolution. With the rise of Napoleon and the collapse of the Old Regime (from the French Revolution) came warfare that maintained no restraints (Bell, pg. 8). Instead, battle tactics began to focus heavily upon relentless attacks against enemy troops and the complete annihilation of an adversary’s combat effectiveness in the field of war (Bell, pg.

The First Total War book

The First Total War book. The twentieth century is usually seen as the century of total. It was during this time, Bell argues, that our modern attitudes toward war were born. The central thesis of David Bell's First Total War is that the Napoleonic wars, both in the way they were thought of and in the way they were fought, represented an almost complete break with the style of the 18th century, where wars had become more and more limited, a matter of aristocratic codes and diplomatic maneuvering, and where battle was.

It was during this time, Bell argues, that our modern attitudes toward war were born

It was during this time, Bell argues, that our modern attitudes toward war were born. In the eighteenth century, educated Europeans thought war was disappearing from the civilized world. So when large-scale conflict broke out during the French Revolution, they could not resist treating it as "the last war" - a final, terrible spasm of redemptive violence that would usher in a reign of perpetual peace. Ever since, the dream of perpetual peace and the nightmare of total war have been bound tightly together in the Western world - right down to the present day, in which the hopes for an "end to history" after the cold war quickly gave way to renewed fears of full-scale slaughter.

According to Bell, since the religious wars, modern European states and its concomitant aristocratic culture . The birth a total war was complete when the French army with new leaders had to quell internal and external threats. The culture of war spawned a & cult of martyrdom.

According to Bell, since the religious wars, modern European states and its concomitant aristocratic culture & surprising limits on war' by mutually agreeing to a code of conduct to protect POWs, enemy noncombatants, etc. In a sense, the aristocratic wars were really & duels with moral issues subordinated to the thirst for honor and glory' that treated enemy as & adversaries' and recoiled from inflicting needless human sufferings.

The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of War As We Know It (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism, 1680-1800 (Harvard University Press, 2001). Lawyers and Citizens: The Making of a Political Elite in Old Regime France (Oxford University Press, 1994). Finalist, Los Angeles Times History Book Prize (2008) for his book The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of War As We Know It. John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2004).

The twentieth century is usually seen as the century of total war, but as the historian David Bell argues in this . Between 1792 and 1815, Europe plunged into an abyss of destruction, and our modern attitudes toward war were born.

The twentieth century is usually seen as the century of total war, but as the historian David Bell argues in this landmark work, the phenomenon actually began much earlier, in the age of Napoleon. Bell takes us from campaigns of extermination in the blood-soaked fields of western France to savage street fighting in ruined Spanish cities to central European battlefields where tens of thousands died in a single day.

of total engagement and the abandonment of restraints" (p. Even before France declared war on the Austrian Habsburg Emperor in 1792, most French political leaders had attained a new understanding of war, as something extraordinary and apocalyptic, which must end either in total victory or in total defeat

David Bell has written an interesting but somewhat flawed book which states that the Napoleonic Wars was the . The are two main weaknesses in Bell's case that the Napoleonic Wars was the first truly modern war in history.

David Bell has written an interesting but somewhat flawed book which states that the Napoleonic Wars was the first total war in European history. According to Bell the intellectual origins of the Napoleanic wars occurred with the writings of elightenment philosophers who wanted to go back to the Classical period in which all the citizens of the republic were part of the army. This theory about the armed republic became reality during the French revolution in which mass conscription took place.

Adam Thorpe on David A Bell's The First Total War - a study of how France abandoned fraternity to celebrate the . More controversially, Bell ascribes the revolution's embrace of perpetual warfare to cultural rather than geopolitical causes (the need to defend itself, for instance)

Adam Thorpe on David A Bell's The First Total War - a study of how France abandoned fraternity to celebrate the art of armed conflict. More controversially, Bell ascribes the revolution's embrace of perpetual warfare to cultural rather than geopolitical causes (the need to defend itself, for instance). It blames les philosophes and, further back still, Christian pacifism. The true key to the museum of the 18th-century imagination", its emphasis on inner virtue and humility, was a proto-Romantic rebuke to court culture. The Enlightenment regarded warfare as "fundamentally irrational", with Voltaire calling it "a million assassins in uniform".

Reviews (7)
Fegelv
David Bell provides an interesting thesis through an intellectual look at the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars and their effect on European culture and thinking. The rise of militarism and the move towards modernity in the army is categorized well throughout and supported by looking at actions from Vendee, Italy, Egypt, Prussia and Spain. From brutalizing campaigns where the limited warfare of the old regime was cast aside in favor of not only large scale relentless battles but guerilla actions. The book is not simply a recasting of the great battles but combines the results of these battles with popular works of literature and theater at the time and the shifts in beliefs from the intellectuals down to the masses. Bell as always delivers a fresh look at a tired topic by utilizing the aspects of intellectual history and using them as a lens to view various events. In this case we see the development of a new type of warfare and how it crystallized in the Napoleonic era. The reason that I use the word interesting and disagree with various reviewers is that Bell thesis is not flawed but the fact that this warfare did not stick and went back to a traditional European model means it did not become dominant until later on. It planted the idea that this type of war could be waged and laid the groundwork for some of the great military minds to publish works such as On War creating new tactics and strategies to shape future wars. Overall well worth the time for those who enjoy military history or the exciting things that intellectual history can unlock when looking at a topic.

Castiel
The role of War in human events has been discussed by political philosophers for centuries. David Bell describes the early French traditions in his book; today, the argument continues: Authors like John Mueller claim that war is on the road to extinction (Retreat from Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War), while others, "realists", think that it's very much here to stay (The Independence of Nations). In "The First Total War", Bell describes not only the conversation but its consequences - how the discourse of Peace and War affect the practice of warfare. And Bell offers a paradoxical observation: that ideas about the obsolescence and even obscenity of war themselves cause war to be more terrible then otherwise.

There are two ways of thinking of Bell's book: you can read it as a pretty straight history of The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era, a little strange in its focus but that nonetheless covering most of the basics, or as an illustration of the main idea: That one of the great renovations of the French Revolution was instituting a view of War as abnormal and unnatural; And, ironically, that this de-legitimization of War made the Wars of the French Revolution into modern - total - wars, much worse than the wars that came before.

Under the Ancient Regime, wars took place regularly. The European powers constantly fought one another. Every decade, at least one major European power fought another, and usually, more than one. The wars were perceived as a natural, inevitable part of international politics: Indeed, warfare had been the raison d'etre of the stae. War had been celebrated in Art, Literature and Poetry, and the great deeds of Kings and Generals universally acclaimed.

But with the Enlightenment, a new brand of thinking came into being: the view of war as unnatural, an abomination. Philosophers like Voltaire and the Baron d'Holbach and popular writers like Archbishop Fenelon argued not only that was is evil, but that it is on the way out: That the growth of commerce, and the increased knowledge and sophistication of mankind means that war would cease.

The French Revolution unleashed these ideas upon the world. The Revolutionaries, with faith in the rights of man, heralded a new age of perpetual peace. But first, the reactionary, counter revolutionary forces had to be destroyed...

For the irony is that the very visions of perpetual Peace led with them the willingness to achieve it regardless of the means; Thus the wars of the ancient regime which were limited and under control were replaced by mass scale feasts of destruction.

To put it in game theory terms (Which Bell doesn't do), the aristocrats who ran pre 1789 armies expected repeat engagements. They have had an incentive for moderation because they knew moderation would be returned. Cultural factors - such as the similarity between aristocratic leaders on all sides of the conflicts - helped enforce the moderation.

After the Revolution, France's new leaders did not expect repeat engagements: they believed in total defeat for the enemy, followed by eternal peace. Partially as a result of this new outlook, wars became a grim, disastrous affair. In the war against France's foreign neighbors, an element of moderation remained because of fear of reprisals. But when destroying internal enemies, no such checks existed: the wide spread destruction of the Vendee region, the heart of the counter revolutionary forces in France, is shocking. "The Vendee was not a genocide, but it nonetheless stirs memories of recent genocidal horrors". (p.184).

This theme sums up the first half of the book, and it might have ended here. Instead, Bell continues to chronicle the events of the Revolution, and the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte. Here Bell's thesis is less clear, and the historical elements of the narrative move to the stage's front.

The argument Bell offers in this section is about the culture of the warrior not the horrors of warfare. Before the ancient regime, to be a solider - to be a commander - was part of the persona one wore. No full time professionals, Ancient Regime aristocrats took soldiering as one of the many facets of their personality. They danced; They wrote poetry; They seduced ladies; And they made war.

With the revolution, soldiering became professional. The army became separate from civilian life, housed separately in barracks and perceived as a different quality than the civil society. Indeed, only in the time of the French Revolution did the terms "Civilian" and "Military" come to detonate the different classes of people.

Napoleon, as the first political general, knew how to use the difference between Civilian and Military spheres to his political advantage. If Civil society seemed corrupt, selfish and incompetent, Napoleon appeared an embodiment of the military spirit - brilliant, powerful, successful, loyal and patriotic. "What have you done with the France that I left you so brilliant?" he asked before taking power. "The Republic exists almost nowhere but in the armies" he claimed. His soldiers called upon him to take the mantle for the good of the country. "General, you have saved France... now save the Republic!" (pp. 218-222). Could he do anything but heed the call?

The French Revolution doubtlessly changed Europe and the world in various respects. Bell's focuses on the transformation of warfare and of the military, of the birth of the professional soldier and the soldier cum political hero. And he offers an imperfect but lively history of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era, including short summaries of the major battles. Both intellectually exciting and historically illuminating, it should appeal to the expert and the neophyte alike.

Ieregr
Enlightenment produced new currents of thoughts that repudiated the military culture of the old regime as merely pursuit of honor and glory. According to Bell, since the religious wars, modern European states and its concomitant aristocratic culture `placed surprising limits on war' by mutually agreeing to a code of conduct to protect POWs, enemy noncombatants, etc. In a sense, the aristocratic wars were really `large-scale duels with moral issues subordinated to the thirst for honor and glory' that treated enemy as `honorable adversaries' and recoiled from inflicting needless human sufferings. Hence, Louis XIV's razing of the Palatinate particularly outraged and courted collective condemnation.

Bell singled out Fenelon and his work, Telemachus, for corroding the adhesion to the aristocratic war culture. Its exhortation of the aged-old `claims of conscience, denunciation of war and Christian pacifism' gained a huge following in France. D'Holbach's The System of Nature, another bestseller, proposed a theory of history to explain the persistence of warfare as an `incomplete embrace of modernity - to remnants of barbarism.' War was just a stage in the progress to universal peace. In the minds of the reading public, these works `transformed peace from a moral imperative to a historical one... and opened the door to the idea that in the name of future peace, any and all means might be justified - including even exterminatory war.'

The cataclysmic social transformation of the French Revolution opened an opportunity for the execution and reinterpretation of those ideals. The Assembly debate on war and peace at the Manege underscored an acute shift from aristocratic concept of wars. Bell observed that new leaders such as Brissot `saw international relations in idealistic terms straight out of Telemachus.' The Girondins successfully made a declaration of peace but simultaneously asserted that `peoples had the right to defend themselves vigorously if attacked.' War rhetoric took a fanatical turn: `A coming `worldwide war of liberation was a holy cause; we will only be "regenerated" by blood; we need strong explosions to expel strong poison in the body of France.'

The Revolution spurred the conviction that war was `a matter of morality and not science or aristocratic art,' no longer the `chess piece maneuvers of the aristocrats.' The democratization of the hitherto aristocratic monopoly of glory and honor formed the plank of the modern culture of war. Individual soldiers and military leaders could enjoy upward mobility by battlefield achievements. The immediate consequence was the rise of `political generals,' with Napoleon being its chief representative. The glorification of war successes underscored the military's moral superiority, the heart of militarism, which 'imposed the values and customs of the military on the civilian society.' For example, the Battle of Valmy gained legendary status that reverberated in the civilian society.

The birth a total war was complete when the French army with new leaders had to quell internal and external threats. The culture of war spawned a `virtual cult of martyrdom.' The sensual treatment of young Joseph Bara's death and the Republic's reaction cultivated a demonization of the enemy and intensified the `rhetoric of a war to the death.' War assumed a religious character and termed as a 'clash of proselytisms.' The spontaneous Vendee peasant uprisings was the apotheosis of this new war. The military viewed `all Vendeans as potentially soldiers and dedicated rebels' hence this `erasure of the line between combatants and non combatants brought about the wanton slaughter of both.' Both sides adopted this total war unleashing unspoken cruelty. Evidence could be found from Calabria to Saragosa.

This riveting and fascinating narrative charted the formation of a new war culture but the story falls short. In the introduction, Bell remarked on Americans' treatment of `armed forces with respect verging on reverence' and the apocalyptic rhetoric used in the war of terror eerily mirrored the revolutionaries. How did this modern `culture of war' metastasize and subsume into the fabric of western civilization and beyond? Bell's observations and evidence found in literature seem to support his theory but a further examination would greatly boost credibility.

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