I really like Understanding Modern Warfare by David Jordan and others – it is a great book for an introductory course on modern war, all of the chapters are good and all of the contributors have done a fine job. However, Cambridge’s efforts to provide proper, modern text book support for it are feeble – their ‘how to use this book’ lists as among other learning features, a table of contents. It is 2009, and the old ToC has been around a while; it is hardly an exciting learning tool. Other learning tools they tout are further reading guides, a glossary and illustrations and diagrams. The scholarship of teaching and learning has advanced to the point whiere you really cannot get way with blowing your trumpet and flagging these basic parts of any good textbook as exciting learning tools.
Today, just out of curiosity, I had a look at the book website to see what online resources they have. Now for most good textbooks these days online resources means links to online readings, some extra content, some quiz questions and often a set of powerpoint slides which you can download, customise and use in lectures. What do CUP have for the Jordan book? Copies of the pictures from the chapters. That’s it. It is not even clear if the pictures are free of copyright, so I’m not sure how freely I can use them. If I wanted 30 pictures of modern warfare to drop on powerpoints, I can get those very quickly from Wikipedia – the CUP website for this book is a complete waste of space. If they want to survive as a modern textbook publisher, they need to stop trading on their reputation and get with the whole internet resources idea. A textbook website must add value to the book if it is the be useful.
Again though, it is a very good book. Even though it isn’t exactly what I want in my course, I will put it on the book list and get a couple of copies for the library. The 6 contributors have done a good job, the notes are useful, the extra reading recommendations are well chosen, it doesn’t cover all the historical narrative but it is good on imposing a framework on the main points and theories. If you are looking for a 101 book on modern warfare since the later nineteenth century, this is a good choice.