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The make-up of South Asian armies has always been determined by class and culture as well as by the different aims of the communities who served in them. Roy investigates the various factors that influenced the formation and mobilization of military forces in the region from 300 BC to the modern day. He contrasts military recruitment in South Asia with China, Africa, the Ottoman Empire and western Europe. The conditions of military service and the military personnel are studied in a broader context, illuminating the social, cultural, economic and technological factors involved.