The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/10/14
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Is there a 'Western way of war' which pursues battles of annihilation and single-minded military victory? Is warfare on a path to ever greater destructive force? This magisterial account answers these questions by tracing the history of Western thinking about strategy - the employment of military force as a political instrument - from antiquity to the present day. Assessing sources from Vegetius to contemporary America, and with a particular focus on strategy since the Napoleonic Wars, Beatrice Heuser explores the evolution of strategic thought, the social institutions, norms and patterns of behaviour within which it operates, the policies that guide it and the cultures that influence it. Ranging across technology and warfare, total warfare and small wars as well as land, sea, air and nuclear warfare, she demonstrates that warfare and strategic thinking have fluctuated wildly in their aims, intensity, limitations and excesses over the past two millennia.
'This is a real masterpiece. As a history of strategic thinking, ancient and modern, it is comprehensive, learned and authoritative. Its discussion of contemporary issues is shrewd and illuminating. It is lucid, wise, often witty, and above all, deeply humane. It should be essential reading for all students and practitioners of strategy: indeed I doubt whether they will need any other for a long time to come.' Sir Michael Howard, former Regius Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford
'Beatrice Heuser has produced a book of immense and unique scholarship. The study provides the most detailed and comprehensive survey yet written on strategic thinking across the ages from Roman times to the contemporary debates about the future of warfare in the twenty-first century. It is essential reading for any serious university or military student of strategic studies or international security.' John Baylis, Emeritus Professor and formerly Pro Vice Chancellor, Swansea University
'With this work Beatrice Heuser has made a major contribution. This is much more than just a survey of strategy through the ages, but a deep, intellectual examination of the complex relationships between strategy and war through the course of history.' Williamson Murray, Professor Emeritus of History, Ohio State University
'Heuser's history of strategic theory and practice demonstrates extraordinary range, erudition, intelligence, and insight. She appears to have read everything, in many languages, about attempts to apply armed force effectively. The Evolution of Strategy will be the first port of call for those wanting to check up on the development of land strategy in the eighteenth century, maritime strategy in the nineteenth century, nuclear strategy in the twentieth century, or counterinsurgency strategy in the twenty-first century.' Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affairs
'Beatrice Heuser … has written one of the most important books on strategy and war to appear in recent years.' H. R. MacMaster, Survival
'… Hauser's deeply intellectual analysis of the history of military strategy achieves its aim and achieves it with style. It is comprehensive without being dry, it is intellectual without being geekish and it is authoritative without being academically arrogant … It should be read, digested, considered and appreciated like one would approach a Cuban cigar and cognac in the study or ante-room. The author is to be congratulated for a fine piece of work and a major contribution to the study of strategy.' Dave Mugridge, The Naval Review
'There can be no dispute that this is a major work by a recognised authority. Heuser set out to provide a survey of the literature discussing this subject over much of European history and there can be little doubt that she has achieved her aim.' Australian Defence Force Journal
My 5 star rating is not based on my expertise of the subject. I can neither defend or argue against much of it. the book was more than I expected & held my attention & interest to the end. Therefore my rating is, again, based on lay perspective.
In Ms Hueser's book this struggle of alternate points of view is seen to presist over time and it is just fascinating to read through what people thought and said. We are of course dependent on the integrity of the author to accurately represent such view point from just a few quotations and brief description but that is the burden and the task of the historian of any kind. Over the course of the book, Ms Hueser does not truly disguise her preference for those who see war as being inherently something to be limited and controlled and for those who believe war is not something for which a formula for sure success can be found.
I would be remiss not to mention the truly comprehensive and amazing bibliography almost worth the price of the book in itself.
Reading the above comments I don't think I am fully justifying the five star rating which I don't often give. What I may not have communicated is the real intellectual joy it is to hear all these voices in dialouge across time and space. Try a dip into any chapter and I hope you will see what I mean. However, I suppose we should remember R.E. Lee's thought "It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we would grow to love it" and remind ourselves that war, no matter how skillfuly strategized and waged, ultimately means killing people like you or me.