Christy PichicheroJul 29, 2022
The Military Enlightenment
War and Culture in the French Empire from Louis XIV to Napoleon
Cornell University Press 2018
Covering the pivotal period from the mid-seventeenth century through the era of the French Revolution, Christy Pichichero's The Military Enlightenment: War and Culture in the French Empire from Louis XIV to Napoleon (Cornell University Press, 2018; paperback ed. 2020) is a fascinating interdisciplinary study that pushes us to rethink our ideas about both the military and the Enlightenment in and beyond a France that was a global, as well as a continental European imperial power. As Pichichero shows, the (long) eighteenth century holds the key to our understanding historical concepts and transformations that we tend to associate with later developments in military thought and practice, from conventions around "good" and "humane" conflict to ideas about community and civility between soldiers fighting together and on opposing sides.
The book's five chapters explore a broad range of compelling events and sources, from the work of well known Enlightenment thinkers and authors such as Voltaire and Choderlos de Laclos, to military manuals and debates regarding how wars would and should be waged, how soldiers should be trained to think and act in battle. Now available in a new paperback edition, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in the longue durée of military culture and warfare, as well as those with an interest in all that the Enlightenment did and could mean.
Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada who specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century France and empire.She is the founding host of New Books in French Studies, a channel launched in 2013.