This book looks at every significant war since the first recorded battles in Human history (involving ancient Egypt). The basic format of this book is well thought out. Most topics get a two page spread, with 'before' and 'after' side panels to the left and right, explaining the background to the war and the aftermath. At least one major battle per chapter also get a two-page spread. Even early on some wars are sub-divided, so the Seven Years War is gets a spread to itself, as well as one for the fighting in North America, another for India and a fourth for the battle of Leuthen. The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars get nine spreads, the First World War six and the Second World War nine.
The book is divided into seven chapters, each representing a particular era of warfare. Each chapter begins with an introduction and timeline, and contains at least one key battle, one 'aspect of war' (supplies, propaganda, medicine'), one picture gallery and one 'witness to war' as well as the main double spreads.
The book is beautifully presented. Just about every double page spread is accompanied by a map - mostly simple outline maps showing the location of the events described, but with a good selection of more detailed maps (covering topics such as the Mongol conquests, Babur and the Moguls and Napoleon's Imperial Triumphs). Each spread is beautifully illustrated, with works of art or artefacts from the correct period (or from as close to the period as possible, so a section on Ancient China includes a 14th Century Chinese painting).
The focus on a picked set of 'significant' wars will inevitably cause controversy whenever a conflict has been skipped, but the editors have done a good job in picking the conflicts to include - so far I have found at least a mention of every war I have tried to find (some that are not mentioned in the main text are included in the directory)
Despite its size this book isn't encyclopaedic in scope (nor does it claim to be). The Directory contains around 1,700 battles, about a quarter of the number contained in Brassey's Battles, or a fifth of the total in Tony Jaques' Dictionary of Battles and Sieges (of course neither of these books include accounts of the wars themselves). This is achieved by focusing on major wars and by picking out the most important battles from those wars, generally successfully, although some areas are under-represented - only one of Napoleon's early battles in Italy is included for example, but most of the major battles of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars are included. The Directory is best seen as a support tool for the main chapters, providing extra details to support the main narratives, although some topics are only covered in the Directory.
This is the sort of book that you can dip in and out of, learning something new every time. The focus on 'significant' war's means that the authors have been able to produce a much more readable book than is usual in this genre, and one that we will certainly find useful.
1- War in the Ancient World 3000 BCE-500 CE
2 - War in the Medieval World 500-1500
3 - Early Modern Warfare 1500-1750
4 - The Age of Revolution 1750-1830
5 - The Dawn of Mechanized Warfare 1830-1914
6 - Era of the World Wars 1914-1945
7 - Conflicts after World War II 1945-Present
Editorial Consultant: Saul David
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley