The only previous war to match the world wars of the twentieth century in scale and impact was the French War of 1793-1815. This book is the first book to compare these conflicts, which together shaped the history of the modern world. A.D. Harvey relates the causes, conduct and outcome of these wars to the fundamental nature of the societies which fought them. Political decisions, economic power and social attitudes interfaced with the demands of military technology to determine the outcome of each case. Britain is the centre of focus, but is seen against a background of the other combatants. Harvey's ability to make large-scale generalisations is backed up by a wealth of fascinating and carefully documented detail, making this outstanding and exceptionally well-written book a pleasure to read. The author has tackled a huge subject and has not been afraid to face up to either its complexities or its implications. By asking new questions and using a range of unfamiliar sources this book provides an unusually profound analysis not only of these wars but also of the nature of modern society and of our understanding of the past.