I found this book to have many of the elements that make a great history book. Superb writing engages the reader and elucidates the complex political background of most wars. The presentation is wonderful, with the chosen pictures feeling real and powerful, they really make the book something special.
Sadly, the choice of content pulls the book down from greater heights. The first and second world wars altogether have four chapters devoted to them; I feel this was a bit of a waste when these massive and famous wars are covered so much in the print and television media. I also felt that covering the cold war in political terms rather than as separate wars (such as Vietnam and Korea), was disappointing.
For me a book entitled War Since 1900
is expected to be about warfare in the 20th and 21st centuries, not mostly about the politics of those centuries, although I would expect some of that. I would also expect the book to cover in more depth the less well-known wars of the Edwardian and inter-war periods, apart from the Russo-Japanese war I felt the book didn’t live up to this. I feel this style would be unsatisfactory to the more knowledgeable reader; I found myself a little bored reading sections on the cold war that I had read in better depth else ware.
All this isn’t to say this was a bad book, it certainly wasn’t, I found the section on wars in the middle east to have just the right blend of campaign and political information. The parts on the post colonial and civil wars in Africa were also excellent. Alongside that, the detailed history of the evolution of air and naval power is a perfect fit for the book. Therefore, I would recommend this book more for the reader who hasn’t read much on modern wars, and would like to use this book as an overview and introduction to war in the modern era.