Between Peace and War: British Defence and the Royal United Services Institute, 1831-2010
By Damian P O'Connor 356pp, 2011, Paperback, £15.00(+P&P) Also available as an e-book (Kindle)
For 180 years, the Royal United Services Institute has been at the heart of British thinking on defence and security. Founded after an 1829 call for a scientific and professional approach to the study of military affairs, the Institute has, in its long history, borne witness to tumultuous international and technological change.
Wooden ships gave way to ironclads, to dreadnoughts, to carriers; European empires rose, competed and fell; two total wars wracked the globe and culminated in new weapons that threatened to end civilisation itself; terrorism mutated from an isolated nuisance to a threat to the global way of life.
Throughout these revolutions, the Royal United Services Institute has served British defence at its very core. A history of the Institute is a history of British defence thinking and the many fierce – and sometimes surprising – debates that raged in public and behind the closed doors of government and military.
Between Peace and War offers a lively and insightful survey of this extraordinary period of British and international history, through the lens of an institution that both reflected and shaped the unfolding British approach to a changing, and often dangerous, world.
Dr Damian O’Connor began researching the Royal United Services Institute in 2003 as part of his PhD studies at the University of East Anglia into nineteenth-century British imperial defence policies. A history teacher by profession, he has travelled widely in Africa, North America and Asia in pursuit of his lifelong interest in imperial, naval and military history. He also served as a Territorial Army officer in the Royal Artillery (Volunteers) in the 1980s.