Of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression

Paperback | November 1, 1985

byRobert L. OConnell

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The appearance of the crossbow on the European battle field in A.D. 1100 as the weapon of choice for shooting down knights threatened the status quo of medieval chivalric fighting techniques. By 1139 the Church had intervened, outlawing the use of the crossbow among Christians. Withthis edict, arms control was born. As Robert L. O'Connell reveals in this vividly written history of weapons in Western culture, that first attempt at an arms control measure characterizes the complex and often paradoxical relationship between men and arms throughout the centuries. In a sweeping narrative that ranges fromprehistoric times to the nuclear age, O'Connell demonstrates how social and economic conditions determine the types of weapons and the tactics used in warfare and how, in turn, innovations in weapons technology often undercut social values. He describes, for instance, how the invention of the gunrequired a redefinition of courage from aggressive ferocity to calmness under fire; and how the machine gun in World War I so overthrew traditional notions of combat that Lord Kitchener exclaimed, "This isn't war!" The technology unleashed during the Great War radically altered our perceptions ofourselves, as these new weapons made human qualities almost irrelevant in combat. With the invention of the atomic bomb, humanity itself became subservient to the weapons it had produced. Of Arms and Men brilliantly integrates the evolution of politics, weapons, strategy, and tactics into a coherent narrative, one spiced with striking portraits of men in combat and penetrating insights into why men go to war.

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The appearance of the crossbow on the European battle field in A.D. 1100 as the weapon of choice for shooting down knights threatened the status quo of medieval chivalric fighting techniques. By 1139 the Church had intervened, outlawing the use of the crossbow among Christians. Withthis edict, arms control was born. As Robe...

Robert L. O'Connell is Senior Analyst at the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency's Foreign Science and Technology Center. He is a former member of the U.S. Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 9.17 × 6.06 × 1.02 inPublished:November 1, 1985Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195053605

ISBN - 13:9780195053609

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"Most readable. Adaptable to either a history of a Western culture class."--R.T. Paytan, West Washington University