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CONFLICT by David Petraeus Kirkus Star


The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

by David Petraeus & Andrew Roberts

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 2023
ISBN: 9780063293137
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

The progress of modern warfare from 1945 to the present and into the future.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to rage, with ongoing reporting drawn to the increasingly sophisticated warfare maneuvers executed from the military on both sides, this conflict serves as a touchstone for authors, and this book is particularly timely. Petraeus, a global affairs specialist and retired Army general, and noted historian Roberts, author of Leadership in War and Master and Commanders, judiciously trace how modern warfare has progressed since 1945 through the present moment, and they set forth the possible implications of the Russian-Ukrainian war for global conflicts in the future. They closely examine key battles that contributed to this evolution—“such as in tactical concepts, or a crucial new weapon, or when defense became superior to offence (or vice versa)”—and consider a future that will likely entail cyber warfare and AI. The authors explore the Korean War, Vietnam, the two Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as where the U.S. had less or no direct involvement: Indo-China, the Arab-Israeli wars, the Balkan wars in former Yugoslavia, and brutal guerrilla wars in South African countries such as Rwanda. Petraeus and Roberts analyze the failures, achievements, and the lessons learned, emphasizing why the need for effective leadership at the strategic level “is absolutely critical—and can, in many cases, determine the outcome of a conflict.” As examples, they cite Moshe Dayan’s command of the Six-Day War in 1967 and Volodymyr Zelensky’s leadership in Ukraine. On the flip side, the authors show when a leader’s ego can lead to disastrous outcomes—e.g., Putin’s hubris in expecting a swift invasion of Ukraine. The authors’ conclusions may spark debate among some military strategists, but their arguments are consistently well grounded and based on vast experience.

A must-read for military historians and strategists.