The images collected here display the art of war at nine crucial stages of its evolution. They are about means and not ends - the art of war independent of its many purposes.
All are drawn from the history of the West, whose emergence as the first global civilisation was largely dependent on its military proficiency. Contemporary military practice everywhere is now rooted in Western methods. This is a reflection of the far-reaching cultural influence those methods have helped to achieve.
On occasion people have been inclined to imagine that changes in the art of war might represent a form of progress. They have hoped that new technologies or new social practices might make war less destructive, or less likely, or at any rate more efficient as a means of achieving society's ends. These hopes have routinely been dashed.
War remains what it has always been: killing and cruelty on a large scale, undertaken for ends that may well seem puny or illusory in retrospect. If it continues to exist it is only because history has given us ample reason to believe that, terrible though war is, it is not the worst that can happen.