THE AMERICAN WAY OF WAR by Russell F. Weighley


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A broadly conceived history of U.S. military strategy and its execution by a Temple University professor, co-editor of The Journal of Military Affairs and author of a History of the U.S. Army in this series. Weighley, who writes with an easy command of his subject, begins with a brief study of George Washington's strategic difficulties and the coming of American naval power, then proceeds through the Civil War and postwar Indian fighting, both of which exhibited a new kind of anti-population warfare. The 20th century gave rise to the Billy Mitchell air power controversy and then disputes with the British over the ""second front"" stratagem against the Germans and the RAF preference for terror-bombing -- debates which Weighley relays with full and partisan relish. The ""limited war"" innovators of the post-Dulles era bred a tragic irony with the limitless Vietnam commitment they sponsored. The book makes a series of theoretical identifications and judgments: Robert E. Lee came closest to the Napoleonic passion for the offensive; Clausewitz only became fashionable in the U.S. after the strategic debacles of World War I. Weighley's general conclusion is that there has been an increasing tendency over the decades to adopt a ""strategy of annihilation,"" and that now, given nuclear potentialities and the standoff failures of conventional warfare, ""the history of usable combat may be reaching its end."" The book makes a commendable effort to deal with political dimensions, from the Mexican War to Grant's need for quick victories, though in discussing the ""missile gap"" it doesn't go so far as to acknowledge military-industrial pressures. Not a ""definitive"" study but a readable thematic overview.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1973
Publisher: Macmillan