Changing Ways of Waging War During the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries


G. Stolyarov II

See Mr. Stolyarov's Index of Selected Writings, Originally Published on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices.
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2005 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007. I have a much less favorable view of war now than I did in 2005, and I would no longer agree with the statement that aversion to war during the 1920s and 1930s assisted in Hitler's rise to power. However, to preserve a record of my writings following the shutdown of Yahoo! Voices in 2014, I have given this article a permanent presence on this page.

~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

The late nineteenth century saw the beginning of a dramatic shift in the way wars would be fought. The battlefield would no longer be monopolized by troops carrying individual weapons of relatively mild firepower, but, rather, a greater reliance on the size, caliber, and technical intricacy of weapons, as well as their capacity to inflict massive casualties, became the order of the day.

By the time of the First World War, these trends would revolutionize the wartime experience on every level and in every branch of the armed forces. A survey of the principal technological innovations in the realm of weaponry during the fifty years preceding World War I as well as the war itself presents a comprehensive understanding of the breadth and scope of these developments and their impacts.

The technological array of weapons unleashed in the decades preceding and encompassing World War I was able to, for a time, displace the very idea of limited warfare, and replace it with a paradigm where the infliction of mass casualties in all theaters of war by means of mechanized innovations became the norm.

No longer was the courage of the individual soldier sufficient to preserve him from the ravages of the machine gun, or the explosion of a howitzer shell that was launched tens of kilometers beyond the soldier's line of sight. When European powers had a technological edge on their adversaries, as in the European assimilation of African territories, or in the defeat of the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1901, European armies were able to win battles with minimal casualties.

When, however, multiple European armies of equivalent technological might faced off against each other, the results were devastating to all sides. The multiple millions of lives destroyed by the new weapons in World War I further amplified the immense dismay and shock prevalent in European cultural and intellectual reactions to the happenings of the era, and prompted a worldwide aversion to all forms of warfare during the isolationist period of the 1920s and 1930s, which, in turn, left no effective counterbalance to Hitler's rise to power and thus plunged the world into a second massive world war.

Gradually, however, the evolution of advanced tank, aircraft, and artillery technology furnished another transformation of the paradigm of war into one favoring greater maneuverability and the distancing of the individual soldier from the battlefield. Over the course of the twentieth century, technology solved its own problems as military strategies, especially those of American armies, became focused on precise, limited, and contained strikes with a focus on maximum troop training and minimum loss of human life.


Gennady Stolyarov II (G. Stolyarov II) is an actuary, science-fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. 

In December 2013, Mr. Stolyarov published Death is Wrong, an ambitious children’s book on life extension illustrated by his wife Wendy. Death is Wrong can be found on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

Mr. Stolyarov has contributed articles to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), The Wave Chronicle, Le Quebecois Libre, Brighter Brains Institute, Immortal Life, Enter Stage RightRebirth of Reason, The Liberal Institute, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

In an effort to assist the spread of rational ideas, Mr. Stolyarov published his articles on Associated Content (subsequently the Yahoo! Contributor Network and Yahoo! Voices) from 2007 until Yahoo! closed this venue in 2014. Mr. Stolyarov held the highest Clout Level (10) possible on the Yahoo! Contributor Network and was one of its Page View Millionaires, with over 3,175,000 views. Mr. Stolyarov’s selected writings from that era have been preserved on this page.

Mr. Stolyarov holds the professional insurance designations of Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA), Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society (ACAS), Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA), Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Associate in Reinsurance (ARe), Associate in Regulation and Compliance (ARC), Associate in Personal Insurance (API), Associate in Insurance Services (AIS), Accredited Insurance Examiner (AIE), and Associate in Insurance Accounting and Finance (AIAF).

Mr. Stolyarov has written a science fiction novel, Eden against the Colossus, a philosophical treatise, A Rational Cosmology,  a play, Implied Consent, and a free self-help treatise, The Best Self-Help is Free. You can watch his YouTube Videos.Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at

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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.