This is the first first book I have come across that really delves into the political and economic aspects of military history while not losing a beat in discussing the tactics. Howard does a great job of leading one subject into another, but if you do not have some background in European History, this is not the book to start with. Howard's thematic tool is combatants, such as "War of the Knights," "War of the Mercenaries," etc. While this is effective in converying how one group becomes more important than the previous, he does not really give you a full flavor for why it is changing, concentrating more on weaponry and politics. Overall: read it if you haven't, but make sure you have some background in European history first.