by Jeremy Black
London / New York: Continuum, 2012. Pp. xxii, 304.
Notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 1441157131
In Avoiding Armageddon
the prolific Prof. Black (Exeter) address developments in the conduct of war between the world wars.
Black’s principal point is that “there is no one way to write about military developments in the inter-war period.” He argues that most accounts of developments in the period actually look backwards from a perspective that is clearly based on the events of 1939-1945. In contrast, looking forward from 1918, there were two decades of great uncertainty about pretty much everything, and little practical experience to offer guidance. Then, after admonishing us to keep in mind that even this account should not be taken as definitive, he looks at developments in the period as they unfolded.
'Black takes particular note of trends emerging from the limited wars of the period, including some major colonial wars (Spain and France in Morocco, Italy in Libya and Ethiopia), many smaller encounters, various coups and civil wars,and the handful of major wars in the period, such as the Russo-Polish (1919-1921), Chaco (1932-1935), Spanish Civil (1936-1939), and Second Sino-Japanese (1937 on). He looks closely at new ideas in naval and air warfare, noting that the advocates of the latter in particular promised far, far more than they could deliver for almost the entire period. Also of influence was the fact that during the second half of the inter-war period, military trends were taking place within the framework of a global economic disaster and rising tensions among the Great Powers.
A very thought-provoking work, Avoiding Armageddon is essential for those seriously interested in the evolution of warfare in the twentieth century.