Douglas Porch’s book on imperialism and warfare is meant as an introductory book on the subject, but I don’t think it serves that job very well. Organized around general subjects of how European vs non-European wars worked in the 18th and 19th Centuries is skips around too much for an unfamiliar reader to really get a good grasp of the events talked about.

Now, not a lot of background is really needed, as long as the reader has some sense of the course of events already, the book will be very easy to follow. It does go into the why of those events quite well, and the book is an excellent ‘next step’ once some general background is known. Wars of Empire is a long thought-essay (though a short book) on how Europe came to control so much over those two centuries. He goes into such things as why so many indigenous peoples completely failed to resist Western Imperialism, despite having access to many of the same tools (especially in the 18th Century, while firearms were still relatively simple to operate and maintain). He points out how Imperial expansion was often politically unpopular, and often came only by the actions of commanders posted far away from home (it is a pity he didn’t step outside his time frame to point out how the Japanese Army in Manchuria operated the same way). There’s some important things talked about here, but not necessarily enough context. I’d also like to see a detailed study of some part of all this to demonstrate that events actually work the way he says, instead of just drawing general conclusions from general trends.

Also, I have the Endeavour Press Kindle edition of the book, and it has suffered a bit. It’s much cleaner than a lot of OCR translations I’ve seen, but there’s still a few flubs (and about two cases where I could not figure out what the original word was), and a high number of dropped periods (which is not something I’ve seen before). What makes this especially surprising is that the original book was released in 2000, so I would have supposed electronic files would still exist, instead of needing to scan.