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Modern Strategy Paperback – November 18, 1999

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198782513 ISBN-10: 0198782519 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


There is much that is interesting and good in this book - Richard Hatfield - Policy Director, Ministry of Defence. R U S I Journal - June 2000

An excellent and necessary textbook for the international relations student. THES, February 2000

The Book is a dazzling accomplishment. The Washington,Times March 2000

Modern Strategy is a major contribution to our understanding of strategic theory and practice. The Washington Times, March 2000

Over the years, no writer has addressed the topic of strategy more comprehensively or systematically than Colin Gray. The Washington Times, March 2000

Modern Strategy is his finest effort to date. The Washington Times, March 2000

`Gray has been writing about, professing, or "practicing" strategy for thirty years, and whether or not you agree with him, he is among the few scholars of strategy who should never be ignored.' Mark T. Clark Director, National Security Studies, California State University. Naval War College Review, Spring 2000

`...his thesis is worth understanding; modern strategy (indeed all) strategy is still a subject worth studying. Anyone interested in learning more about it will benefit from his work.' Mark T. Clark Director, National Security. Naval War College Review, Spring 2000

"The material is so rich in allusion and reference...the approach so novel, the insights often so extraordinary...there are many "brilliant pebbles" of wisdom and insight" Naval Review, April 2001

Covers so much ground...masterfully sets out the relationship between politics, ethics and strategy....Gray's critique is considered and he always draws what is best from the theories he rejects....a dazzlingly brilliant guide to a wide range of issues...Gray writes from the perspective of an insider in the western military establishment, but even its critics will be informed, entertained and provoked by this book." Royal Institute of International Affairs, Vol 76, October 2000

About the Author

Colin Gray is Professor of International Politics and Director of the Centre for Security Studies at the University of Hull. He is the author of numerous books on strategy, including The Navy in the Post-Cold War World: The Uses and Value of Strategic Sea (1994), Explorations in Strategy (2nd edn, 1998), and The Second Nuclear Age (forthcoming 1999).


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 18, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198782519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198782513
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 0.9 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By seydlitz89 on June 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is not light reading. A good background in 20th Century military history as well as Clausewitz is necessary to get the most from this very impressive work. So why bother? What are the uses of Neo-Clausewitzian Strategic Thought?
In the post 9-11 world there is no better way in my opinion to understand the Al Qaida threat. Professor Gray published this work in 1999, but his views and methodology remain as important as ever.
The reason for this is that the grammar of war changes (the ways we fight it, the increasingly complex "elements"), while the nature of war remains the same. Politics and political goals have always been the core reasons for the violent struggle of wills between polities which we call war. That was true in ancient times and remains true today.
Following Clausewitz and Gray I think one could make a very convincing case that Al Qaida is waging war in three forms simultaneously-- guerrilla war, terrorist war and revolutionary war which all put heavy emphasis on the political. With this in mind our MAIN weapon against Al Qaida should be our foreign (political) policy, not an emphasis on high-tech, military responses against obscure targets, the resulting "colateral" destruction only hurting our political policy and playing to the goals of our enemies. Such are the nuances of Clausewitzian strategic thought, far from the "war-as-ideal Mahdi of Mass" strawman usually portrayed by the great strategic theorist's detractors.
Of interest also are Gray's appreciation of the contributions of John R. Boyd, his untangling of the confusion surrounding the term "Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), and his comments on the little known (or understood) impact of the Second Smuts Report of 1917.
In all this book is a great work in strategic thought of high intellectual merit. Of interest also is a recent article in the Spring issue of Parameters by Gray on Asymmetrical Warfare.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 27, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Edit of 23 Feb 08 to add links. This book remains priceless & relevant.

First published in 1999, this is an original tour d-horizon that is essential to any discussion of the theory and practice of conflict in the 21st Century, to include all those discussions of the alleged Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), the need for "defense transformation", and the changing nature of civil-military relations.

I am much impressed by this book and the decades of thinking that have gone into it, and will outline below a few of its many signal contributions to the rather important questions of how one must devise and manage national power in an increasingly complex world.

First, the author is quite clear on the point that technology does not a revolution make-nor can technology dominate a national strategy. If anything-and he cites Luttwak, among others, with great regard-an excessive emphasis on technology will be very expensive, susceptible to asymmetric attack, and subversive of other elements of the national strategy that must be managed in harmony. People matter most.

Second, and this is the point that hit me hardest, it is clear that security strategy requires a holistic approach and the rather renaissance capability of managing a multiplicity of capabilities-diplomatic, economic, cultural, military, psychological, information-in a balanced manner and under the over-arching umbrella of a strategy.

Third, and consistent with the second, "war proper" is not exclusively about force of arms, but rather about achieving the national political objective by imposing one's will on another.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on February 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding contribution to strategic studies, a comprehensive placing of virtually all theorists and historians of war and strategy, and hugely thought-provoking. Yet Gray never forgets that practice is primary, noting the `authority of practice over theory'.
He uses Clausewitz's method, defining strategy as `the use that is made of force and the threat of force for the ends of policy': it is about objectives, effects. The nature and function of strategy and war are unchanging, though their characters change constantly. "Every war is both unique yet also similar to other wars." Strategy is in every conflict everywhere.
Tactics, by contrast, is the use of instruments of power in action. Strategy proposes; tactics dispose. "War is not `about' economics, morality, or fighting. Instead, it is about politics."
Strategy's dimension are politics, ethics, military preparations, people, technology, time, war proper. Technological changes alter the character not the nature of war: "Technology is important, but in war and strategy people matter most."
Gray analyses strategy's components, its various environments, land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. Seapower, airpower and spacepower function strategically as enabling factors: a war's outcome may be decided by action at sea, in the air or in space, but all conflicts have to be finally resolved on land, where people are.

He illuminates wars from the Punic to the Boer, but focuses mainly on the 20th century's excessive amount of war experience: wars between empires, still all too possible, and wars against nations, opposed by wars for national liberation and independence. He writes, "how truly heroic is Mao's message of eventual success through the conduct of protracted revolutionary warfare.
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