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Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft, and World Order Hardcover – June 22, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
But this case for the diplomat-engineer is seldom made. More often than not, it is considered that the statesman and his close kin, the diplomat, should be trained in the humanities. Charles Hill, a diplomat turned educator and a lover of great books, takes as his aim "the restoration of literature as a tutor for statecraft". The argument of his book is that the world should recognize high political ideas and actions of statecraft as aspects of the human condition that are fully within the scope of literary genius, and ones that great writers have consistently explored in important ways. For Charles Hill, the international world of states and their modern system is a literary realm; it is where the greatest ideas of the human condition are played on. Even literary works read and praised for insights on personal feelings and intimate matters, such as Jane Austen's Emma, possess a dimension wholly apt for statecraft--in Emma's case, the gathering and misanalysis of intelligence.Read more ›
For me Hill's book was an a reintroduction to works I read many years ago (TE Lawrence, Kipling, Proust, Milton, & Locke) and an introduction to author's I've never read, but should.
This small, 300-page "introduction" of sorts would provide an excellent foundation for anyone with an interest in the intersection of literature and history, and should be required reading at foreign service schools and military academies at a minimum. We would be wise to reestablish the connection between a complete liberal arts background and the career fields determining our national policies/strategies.
Highest recommendation; this is an important book.
It is true the book is not so much about grand strategy in the classical political science or military sense, but for that I recommend Colin Gray's Modern Strategy. The book also does not address the impoverished nature of the nation-state system or how to build civilizations. There I recommend Philip Allott's The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State and Richard Spady's The Leadership of Civilization Building: Administrative and civilization theory, Symbolic Dialogue, and Citizen Skills for the 21st Century.
Read to the bitter end this magnificent book is both an indictment of the nation-state system, and an ode to the role of literature as a foundation for understanding and enhancing civilization and relations among peoples rather than nations.Read more ›
And after all its praise for literature, it's a dull read.
And it has nothing to do with grand strategy.
Hill begins with a lot of claims. The Westphalian state system is a "moral order." Literature reveals the "sources and motivations" behind accepting that state system. Today, "state order and literature are under assault." Most fundamentally, he's arguing that "high political ideas and actions of statecraft [are] aspects of the human condition that are fully within the scope of literary genius."
However, a basic logic behind choosing or analyzing texts is missing. Hill wants to highlight the intangible art of strategy and diplomatic thinking, but without SOME guiding principles, the work incoherently drifts outward. For instance, Hill dwells in depth on Dante's "Inferno" without a word on writers like Grotius or Vattel, whose work actually and broadly shaped Europeans' international thinking and practice. Similarly, Hill (with some disdain) discusses French revolutionary writers but offers nothing from Edmund Burke. Why not? There may be good reasons, but the reader suspects Hill's idiosyncratic tastes and personal reading history are the only logics behind the book's parameters.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an incredible book; a survey of thousands of years of literature and strategy! Drawing from the great books and plays of Western civilization, Hill traces the development... Read morePublished 25 days ago by H Finley
A fascinating derivative of scores of writings that present an education on statecraft.Published 9 months ago by David
One of the best criticisms of how literature and statecraft unite. If professors would teach in the same approach history, politics and literature would form such tangibility in... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Kristy A. Massey
Hill's explanation of limited war through the story of Satan in the Garden of Eden is one of the most original concepts I have encountered and worth the five stars and the read... Read morePublished 19 months ago by GG Flyfisher
You better put on your big boy pants to read this book. The Author says that "the restoration of literature as a tutor for statecraft is the aim of this book. Read morePublished 19 months ago by W. Sid Vogel
Charles Hill's breath of knowledge and experience as a diplomat bring a normally dry topic to life. The use of passages from the multiple texts make this reading as exciting as... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Norman M. Palgon
All the subjects are very easy to understand...The ítem that point the diferences betwen "legalite" and "legitimite" are excelent. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Diego de Elizalde
The author, sweeping through recorded history, provides a foundation for exploring, understanding, and applying the wisdom of humanities greatest literary works. Read morePublished 20 months ago by James
The writer most certainly gave me new prospective on how literature influenced political progress and political order .