by Peter with Gordon A. Craig & Felix Gilbert--Eds. Paret ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 1, 1986
An imposing array of 28 analytic essays on the conduct of war from a crack squad of academic heavies. While it succeeds a 1943 anthology of the same title, the work at hand is almost entirely new; only seven of 21 entries survive in their original or revised form from the edition published at the height of WW II. In a thoughtful introduction, Paret (Stanford) takes his cue from von Clausewitz to characterize strategy as the use of force to achieve a war's military objectives and, by extension, its political purpose. This broad definition, which makes statecraft an integral element of effective military strategy, informs many if not most of the pieces included in the current collection. In the event, the scholars recruited by the editors review the contributions of statesmen as well as warriors and other authorities to martial-arts theory and practice. Their ranks include the familiar likes of Churchill, de Gaulle, Frederick the Great, Grant, Hitler, Mahan, von Moltke, Napoleon, Seversky, and Truman. Relatively unsung heroes of military thought and action--e.g., Antoine-Henri Jomini, Hubert Lyautey, Friedrich List--also earn billets. Of interest as well are rundowns on the military judgments of thinkers who made names for themselves in less bellicose enterprises; in this cadre are Fried. rich Engels, Alexander Hamilton, Karl Marx, and Adam Smith, On occasion, the brass are tarnished. In a concise appraisal of WW II's Pacific campaigns, for example, D. Clayton James (a MacArthur biographer from Mississippi State) concludes that no Japanese or US strategist played a ""paramount role.') In fact, he's at pains to debunk the mastermind claims made on behalf of America's Caesar, characterizing him as a none-too-reliable executor of directives from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Thinkers like Herman Kahn who address the awesome issues raised by nuclear weapons are covered in the compilation, as are those who have waged wars of insurgency with conventional weapons in an atomic age--Che, Ho, Mao, et al. Many of their combative forebears, including Lawrence (of Arabia) and Tito receive attention as well. While disclaiming any attempt at comprehensiveness or interpretive uniformity, Paret and his collaborators have assembled a lively, instructive, and thought-provoking series of briefings on military strategy down through the centuries. Armchair generals daunted by the length (over 900 pages) of the text may prefer to start with John R. Elting's The Super-strategists (p. 689).
Pub Date: April 1, 1986
Page Count: -
Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1986
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