“Colonial Violence” is a comprehensive account of how Europeans have used violence to conquer, coerce and police in pursuit of imperialism and colonial settlement. Dierk Walter concludes that recent Western military interventions, from Afghanistan to Mali, are not new wars, but stand in the 500-year-old tradition of transcultural violent conflict.
Western interventions today have much in common with the countless violent conflicts that have occurred on Europe’s periphery since the conquest of the Americas. Like their predecessors, modern imperial wars are shaped by geography and terrain and by pronounced asymmetries of military organisation, resources, modes of warfare and cultures of violence. Today’s imperial wars are essentially civil wars, in which Western powers are only one player among many. As ever, the Western military machine is incapable of resolving political strife through force, or of engaging opponents with no reason to offer conventional combat, who instead rely on guerrilla warfare and terrorism. And, as they always have, local populations pay the price for these shortcomings. It is excellent that Dierk Walter’s survey of colonial conflict has been translated into English. This is military history as it should be written: conceptually broad, chronologically ambitious, and — above all — transnational. His case for continuity — bridging colonial conquest, decolonisation, and recent interventions — will provoke, as it should, but that is the hallmark of an important book.
His case for continuity — bridging colonial conquest, decolonisation, and recent interventions — will provoke, as it should, but that is the hallmark of an important book.
The logic of violent hostilities within the context of European expansion
Colonial Violence offers, for the first time, a coherent explanation of the logic of violent hostilities within the context of European expansion. Walter’s analysis reveals parallels between different empires and continuities spanning historical epochs. He concludes that recent Western military interventions, from Afghanistan to Mali, are not new wars, but stand in the 500-year-old tradition of transcultural violent conflict.
Dierk Walter is a lecturer in Modern History at the Universities of Bern and Hamburg. His research focuses on the history of European expansion and Western military history since the eighteenth century. He has previously published a study on nineteenth-century Prussian military reform, and co-edited many volumes on military history and the Cold War.
The translation of this work was funded by Geisteswissenschaften International — Translation Funding for Work in the Humanities and Social Sciences from Germany, a joint initiative of the Fitz Thyssen Foundation, the German Federal Foreign Office, the collecting society VG WORT and the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association) – Translated by Peter Lewis
Hardback / November 2017 / 9781849048071 / 352pp