Damian P. O’Connor, Between Peace and War: British Defence and the Royal United Services Institute, 1831-2010 (London: Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, 2011)

The Royal United Services Institute and its predecessors has been an present think-tank in the world of strategic studies. Whenever major issues concerning security appear on the news here in the UK, it is often a fellow from RUSI who is called on to provide expert common. This book, published to coincide with the 180th Anniversary of RUSI’s foundation in 1831, charts the role that the institute has played in the formulation of thinking on strategic studies and British defence policy. Primarily it is an institutional history and on this, it appears to be very good. I am less certain about it as a history of British military thinking and RUSI’s role in that process. Early reading suggests that O’Connor is good on the 19th Century, which based on his PhD appears to be his area of expertise.[1] However, a quick perusal of the inter-war period show some lack of understanding. He describes the articles that appeared in RUSI’s journal that dealt with air power as being largely focused on strategic bombing. This is inaccurate and a closer inspection of air power articles in the journal show a wide variety of topics discussed by eclectic collection of authors. Nonetheless is good to see a history of this important institution appear.

This video provides some context to the books evolution.

[1] Damian Paul O’Connor, ‘Imperial Defence and the Commitment to Empire, c. 1870-1886’, PhD Thesis (University of East Anglia, 2006)


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