conditions once again became favorable for the widespread expansion of democracy. The French Republic's levee en masse set the stage: Mass mobilizations required both an effective administrative state and eventually a more egalitarian approach to politics. By the end of the 19th century, both France and Germany had "enormous standing armies" and "both had adopted representative government," with universal suffrage placating the masses, counterbalanced by
protections for property rights to assuage the concerns of the wealthy.¶ In much of Europe, however, the interests of the wealthy and the working class remained at odds.It "took the white-hot wars of the twentieth century, which required both money and manpower, to hinge them into a single coalition in favor of representative democracy," the authors write.¶ When it happened, it happened quickly. Norway and Sweden initiated universal military conscription at the beginning of the 20th century; within a decade, both had also granted universal male suffrage. In Britain, conscription did not begin until 1916; by 1918, universal male suffrage had also been granted. By the end of World War II, 60 million people were dead, but democracy had become the norm throughout the West.¶ "Forged Through Fire" is full of grim lessons. One lesson: warfare, as the authors of this book soberly remind us, has been a near-constant throughout human history.Those inclined to take solace in the post World War II decline of interstate wars might pause to consider that 70 years is, in the grand scheme of things, not a very long time. Another lesson: Those with power have rarely been inclined to relinquish it voluntarily.Only fear and threat have driven the rich and powerful to share -- grudgingly -- with history's have-nots.¶ A third lesson -- perhaps the hardest to swallow -- is that our most cherished modern liberal political values would likely never have triumphed without war and its multiple horrors, and even the democratic gains produced by centuries of war were "neither easy nor inevitable." Democracy depended upon a unique combination of circumstances: technologies favoring manpower-intensive forms of warfare; the lack of external sources of wealththat might have enabled governing elites to purchase military power, rather than coax it from their citizens; andso on. Even with all these conditions present, coercion and propaganda were sometimes sufficient to thwart the development of democracy. Russia and China, for instance, have managed, so far, to buck the trend.¶ All this leads to an uncomfortable question. Wealthy modern states can once again increasingly outsource their security toprivate contractors, andin any case, the emergence of new military technologies is again reducing the need for mass armies.Drones, surveillance technologies and cyber-warfare make it possible for states to achieve war's traditional ends without much need to mobilize their citizens, shifting the balance of power away from ordinary citizens and back towards governing elites.¶ "When armies no longer need flesh and blood," wonder Mr.