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Books and the British Army in the Age of the American Revolution

Books and the British Army in the Age of the American Revolution

Ira D. Gruber
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  • Book Info
    Books and the British Army in the Age of the American Revolution
    Book Description:

    Historians have long understood that books were important to the British army in defining the duties of its officers, regulating tactics, developing the art of war, and recording the history of campaigns and commanders. Now, in this groundbreaking analysis, Ira D. Gruber identifies which among over nine hundred books on war were considered most important by British officers and how those books might have affected the army from one era to another. By examining the preferences of some forty-two officers who served between the War of the Spanish Succession and the French Revolution, Gruber shows that by the middle of the eighteenth century British officers were discriminating in their choices of books on war and, further, that their emerging preference for Continental books affected their understanding of warfare and their conduct of operations in the American Revolution. In their increasing enthusiasm for books on war, Gruber concludes, British officers were laying the foundation for the nineteenth-century professionalization of their nation's officer corps. Gruber's analysis is enhanced with detailed and comprehensive bibliographies and tables.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0393-3
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-1)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 2-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION A French Connection
    (pp. 3-64)

    Books were essential to the eighteenth-century British army and its officer corps. Successive governments relied on books to set standards for the army: to define the obligations of officers in serving their king and country; to prepare officers to lead the combat arms, particularly the artillery and engineers; and to provide uniform tactics for an army that was widely scattered in peacetime—to teach companies and troops how to march, maneuver, and fire so as to blend together effectively in war. Beyond that, officers turned to privately printed books to expand their knowledge of wars and warfare: to understand military...

  6. PART I Officers and Their Books
    (pp. 65-136)

    The following sketches analyze the careers and libraries of forty-two eighteenth-century British army officers whose preferences for books on war have formed the basis for this study. These officers have not been chosen at random and cannot be considered representative of eighteenth-century British officers. Rather they have been included in this study exclusively because they were among the few British officers of their era who left records of preferences for books on war. It is, therefore, important to know who these officers were, what experiences they had, and how influential they might have been. It is also important to know...

  7. PART II Books Preferred
    (pp. 137-234)

    British army officers who served in the age of the American Revolution had literally hundreds of books on war to choose among: histories of campaigns and battles, treatises on engineering and artillery, reflections on the art of war, and works from the ancient world as well as specialized, contemporary works on drill, discipline, law, cartography, defense, and medicine. But which of these books did British officers prefer? We cannot assume that the quality of a book, the frequency with which it was reprinted, or the number of officers who subscribed to its publication are adequate guides to the value that...

  8. PART III Books Not Taken
    (pp. 235-266)

    There were many books on war available in eighteenthcentury Britain that did not appear in our officers’ records. Our officers very likely relied on some of the books that escaped their lists, inventories, and catalogues. We cannot be sure which titles they deliberately ignored and which titles simply did not survive in their lists. We can try to create a checklist of books on war that our officers were most likely to have known about and that are not among the books that they preferred. This is such a checklist—243 books on war that were either advertised or published...

    (pp. 267-308)
    (pp. 309-320)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 321-325)