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Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle unknown Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691128023
ISBN-10: 0691128022
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Editorial Reviews


One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2005

Winner of the 2005 Silver Medal for the Arthur Ross Book Award, Council on Foreign Relations

Winner of the 2005 Col. John J. Madigan III Book Award, U.S. Army War College Foundation

Winner of the 2005 Koopman Prize, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

Winner of the 2004 Huntington Prize, Olin Institute at Harvard

"Superlatives hardly do this book justice. It simultaneously makes major contributions in political science, military history, social science methodology, and contemporary policy debates. Stephen Biddle comprehensively and convincingly dismantles two of the most important literatures in international relations theory in the United States: realism and the offence-defense balance."--Ted Hopf, International History Review

"Stephen Biddle has written perhaps the best volume on the causes of battlefield victory and defeat in a generation. . . . . This is a seminal work on an issue of critical importance."--Spencer D. Bakich, Virginia Quarterly Review

"Biddle's focus is on medium--and high--intensity land war; he combines a sophisticated formal model with analysis of critical case studies of actual battles. His argument has important implications for the structure of all modern military forces and shows persuasively that troops skilled in executing the modern system, not high-tech weapons alone, assure victory. It is a major achievement."--Choice

"Stephen Biddle's Military Power deserves serious attention from military historians. Military Power makes a powerful argument that has redefined thinking within political science and policy circles on why armies win battles. . . . Biddle has produced an outstanding work that addresses a question central to historians, political scientists, and policy-makers."--Carter Malkasian, Journal of Military History

"Stephen Biddle has written a worthy book on the never-ending debate over why land wars are won and lost. It contributes to the academic literature, and his policy judgments deserve attention. . . . It is well worth reading, owning, and remembering."--Richard L. Kugler, Perspectives on Politics

From the Inside Flap

"Steve Biddle may be the best American defense analyst of his generation, and this book is quite possibly his career masterpiece to date. Few are as well qualified as Biddle to weave together vivid descriptions of the modern battlefield, clear explanations of historical lessons, a detailed understanding of defense technology, and a sophisticated use of military models and war games. Biddle does all these things, helping the reader understand modern warfare more than does any other book on the market. His argument about trends in warfare transcends the popular theory that a revolution in military affairs is now underway. He replaces this theory with a more convincing, more historical, and less technology-obsessed view of the modern battlefield."--Michael O'Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

"Stephen Biddle's Military Power is one of the most important contributions to strategic studies in recent decades. Presenting a very powerful case for a very surprising argument on a very important question, it will be controversial in some quarters, but critics will be hard-pressed to refute the case."--Richard K. Betts, Columbia University, author of Military Readiness

"Fascinating, precisely written, indeed, brilliant, Military Power is among the most important books ever published on modern warfare. Stephen Biddle fundamentally rethinks the causes of victory and defeat in modern war and challenges almost the entire corpus of scholarship on assessing force capability and the role of offense and defense in determining war outcomes. Presenting his argument with power, balance, and subtlety, he synthesizes many partial historical explanations and provides a basis for understanding why so many 'rules of thumb' and other explanations are misleading. A landmark work."--Lynn Eden, Stanford University, author of Whole World on Fire --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; unknown edition (July 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691128022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691128023
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
According to Stephen Biddle force employment or the use of combined arms is the secret to military success not superior technology or overwhelming numbers. The first example that Biddle uses is the opening German offensive in 1918 against the British in which they succeded intially against the English army due to effective coordination of artillery and infantry. The second case that Biddle brings up is the British operation Goodwood against the Germans in 1944. The British failed, according to Biddle, due to the lack of cooperation between infantry and armor.Also Biddle dispels the myth that technology alone won Desert Storm because the Marines,equipped with only sixties era tanks, were able to defeat the Iraqis with superior tactics. The only weakness of Biddle's book is that he leaves out the two cases in which opponents with superior nummers defeated a force with effective force employment methods which is the defeat of the Germans to the Russians in the summer of 1944, and the rout of the Americans from North Korea by the Chinese in the winter of 1950. Otherwise, Biddle writes an effective case that force employment and not technology is the most important factor in military victory.
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Format: Hardcover
Stephen Biddle, a Professor at the US Army War College, has produced an important book on modern warfare. He shows how material forces, numbers and technology, only count if used in the modern system. Force deployment shapes the role of material forces. He analyses full data-sets of modern battles, proving that bigger is not always better.

The increasing lethality of firepower means that since 1914 exposed mass movement is suicidal. Only the modern system of using combined arms, cover and concealment enables the attackers' forces to survive the defence's response.

Biddle looks at three significant battles, firstly, the successful German attack of March 1918. For preponderance theorists, the Allies should have stopped this attack dead. The German/British force-to-force ratio was 1.5/1, among the least favourable of any major attack of the war. The British had a few more tanks, but the main weapons were still the infantry and guns of 1915-18, a defence-dominant technology. The British official history blamed the fog, as if there had been no fog until then.

The Germans won an unprecedented breakthrough, advancing 40 miles across a 50-mile front. The Germans implemented the modern system tactically and to some extent operationally; the British didn't. This broke the great stalemate, not new technology, US intervention or exhaustion.

Biddle's second example, Operation Goodwood in July 1944, was the failed Allied effort to break out of the Normandy beachhead. The British had more troops and weapons: 1,277 tanks, 4,500 aircraft and 118,000 troops against 319 tanks, several hundred aircraft and 29,000 troops.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an exceptional work of real empirical science. Steve Biddle has a hypothesis that "force employment" is a more important determinant of military success than either technology or preponderance of military forces. He subjects this hypothesis to a wide range of analytical and empirical tests, and the evidence in support of his argument is compelling. And the author has the foresight to raise many of the issues that occur to a skeptical reader, and to treat them with reasoned analysis and data. His prose is clear, and this is compelling reading even to one who is not an expert in this field.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Prof Terry Tucker, Senior Doctrine Developer, Saudi Arabian NG Modernization Program;

The author presents a balanced, provocative and well presented case for how victory or defeat occurs in battle. This book is designed for both the tecnical numbers kind of person and also the less technical. The chapters can be read as a stand alone or you can also go through the entire book. Either way it has immense value.

The thesis of this book is that force employment, or the doctrine and tactics by which forces are used in combat is centrally important. This book is great reading, is controversial in its presentation but clearly provides both empirical and quantitative analysis to support his position. THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Stephen Biddle attempts to make the case that force employment methods and associated human skills are a more important determinant of military success than high technology. Of course, this argument runs contrary to most thinking in the US military establishment, where a techno-centric viewpoint reigns supreme. As a 30-year participant in the military systems development process in a number of capacities, I happen to agree with most aspects of Biddle's argument. However, I don't think that reading his book necessarily would have made me a believer. Also, I think his argument is more applicable to ground warfare than to sea or air operations. The argument presented in Biddle's book is actually an expanded version of a similar position advanced in a Military Operations Research paper he co-authored in 2002 titled, The Interaction of Skill and Technology in Combat. For people interested in this subject and how future military capabilities should be structured, Biddle's book is well worth the read. However, making any headway against the conventional wisdom with respect to military concepts or the big bucks involved in weapons procurement is likely to be an uphill slog.
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