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Strategy: Second Revised Edition (Meridian) [Paperback]

B. H. Liddell Hart
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 30, 1991 0452010713 978-0452010710 Revised
"The most important book by one of the outstanding military authorities of our time." – Library Journal
 
This is the classic book on war as we know it. During his long life, Basil H. Liddell Hart was considered one of the world's foremost military thinkers--a man generally regarded as the "Clausewitz of the 20th century." Strategy is a seminal work of military history and theory, a perfect companion to Sun-tzu’s The Art of War and Carl von Clauswitz’s On War.

Liddell Hart stressed movement, flexibility, and surprise. He saw that in most military campaigns dislocation of the enemy's psychological and physical balance is prelude to victory. This dislocation results from a strategic indirect approach. Reflect for a moment on the results of direct confrontation (trench war in WW I) versus indirect dislocation (Blitzkreig in WW II). Liddell Hart is also tonic for business and political planning: just change the vocabulary and his concepts fit.

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Product Details

  • Series: Meridian
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Revised edition (March 30, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452010713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452010710
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars uninspiring as a history, provoking as a book on theory November 25, 2004
Format:Paperback
I apologize in advance for my lack of brevity, but to be fair to the author I feel that I must analyze this book at length.

While somewhat unimpressed by Hart's biography of Scipio Africanus, Hart's enviable reputation and the praise he garnered from some of our century's greatest generals encouraged me to give Strategy a chance. At first it looked like another disappointment, but I have come to appreciate this as a truly worthwhile book.

The bad first: The opening section of this book is an attempt by Hart to trace the entire history of Western warfare and demonstrate that in each era of history the indirect approach has worked better than direct assaults. For 143 pages he makes this point over and over again without adding any more detail. I quickly began to feel that he was oversimplifying events, and several times he seems to make very tenuous stretches between events and his theories. At other times it feels like he is attempting to stretch events to fit his theories when there is an insufficiently strong connection. He also seems to have an inadequate grasp of some of the historical periods. His knowledge of the American Civil War seemed a bit piecemeal to me, and his assertion that McClellan's indirect approach during the Peninsular campaign failed due to Lincoln's refusal to increase McClellan's forces does not match well with what I have heard from other sources, which blame McClellan's failure on his own hesitations.

After this section Hart enters into the period of the World Wars. Here he truly starts to shine. The campaigns are described in much greater detail and readers are treated to much better examples and explanations than previously.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a masterpiece -- still August 29, 2001
Format:Paperback
Here Liddell Hart sums up his principles of strategy, illustrating his ideas with examples throughout history. Critics have claimed, with some justice, that he got too wrapped up in his major idea, the "indirect approach," and oversimplified the campaigns he reviewed here to bolster his point. What a reader must realize, however, is that by the time this book was written, much of Liddell Hart's approach had been battle-tested, with spectacular results: among those who credited him were Guderian, Rommel, and Montgomery. If his "indirect approach" is not universally effective, especially against opponents who have also read the book, it is still brilliant and valuable.
Liddell Hart seems to have fallen into disfavor in U.S. military circles, to a degree that cannot be explained simply by his disagreement with Clausewitz about the necessity of destroying the main force of the enemy. While not crediting him, the U.S. applied an indirect approach, emphasizing rapid maneuver, with great success in the Gulf War. Perhaps the explanation lies in a careful reading of the last chapter, added in the 1967 edition, in which he suggests that counter-guerilla warfare must aim to disrupt the guerillas' sources of supply and liaison with allied regular forces nearby -- in short, to win, the U.S. needed to isolate the battlefield. Maybe the U.S. thinkers didn't want to hear this -- and it hasn't helped that, once again, he was absolutely right.
So, by all means, read this book carefully. But then also read
his critics. Nobody, even Liddell Hart (or Clausewitz, or Sun Tzu) had all the answers, and the art of applying past principles to future conflicts keeps changing.
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 20th Century Classic February 15, 2000
By Ron
Format:Paperback
Liddell Hart's thesis on indirect strategy has always been grounded on two things: the use of surprise and the importance of manoeuvre. This indirect strategy is predicated on his firm belief that wars/battles should be won quickly, decisively, and with the least amount of casaulties. In this book, he continuously demonstrates to the reader that, ironically in almost every century, the uses of surprise and manoeuvres have largely been ignored by most military leaders except the competent ones. This book then is therefore not only a commentary on strategy but it is a voice intended to remind the reader the necessity and usefulness of a strategy that could minimize deaths and has proven itself to be most effective way of winning a war. Hart strongly believes that we should learn from history to avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again. As always with Liddell Hart's work, this book is written in a lucid manner and full of life. Highly recommend.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Belisarius said it Best! November 10, 2004
Format:Paperback
I have an original edition of this book and found it useful to read at odd moments. As a naval oficer and one-time World History teacher, I found the early parts of the book fascinating and useful. And by the time Hart reaches his discussion of the age of Justinian and the re-conquest of the Roman Empire by Belisarius, one really has learned quite a bit about Western Civilization and its war history.

The chapter on Belisarius should be committed to memory by all of the current administration's strategic advisors should, because it was Belisarius who developed the Byzintine Empires strategy of winning wars by not "fighting" them.

Belisarius realized that a defeated Roman Empire could re-emerge as a great threat to Constantinople, as could the re-energized Persian Empire and the numerous babarian states surrounding Byzantium. And even with its great position as a world culture and trading capital, neither Justinian nor his empire could afford to engage every threat directly. Therefore, surrogates, feints and his age's version of "gunboat diplomacy" was much more cost effective. In fact Belisarius was one of the most effective generals of all time, even though his actual field leadership experience in battle was relatively limited.

(As an aside -- I would not be surprised if Belisarius was studied vigorously by every Soviet general who ever served. It seems that even though their government carried out a flawed political ideal, their strategies definitely articulated many of Belisarius's military ideas.)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A very poor edition of a not-so-great book
This re-issue was poorly printed, with numerous mistakes, and maps that were almost unusable. This in a book that's incomprehensible without maps. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Steven
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive reasearch went into this book
The book was written in 1954 with a British sense of language--long sentences. So the reading is slow to get the content, but I am so impressed by the research the author did. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J Mike Surratt
2.0 out of 5 stars Unreadably pedantic
The prose is dry as dust, and I simply could not get far enough into the book to give a proper review of the content.
Published 2 months ago by Wolf Lahti
5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamental!
This is strategy 101. Anyone that considers himself a student of strategy MUST read this book. Liddell Hart is one the the "founding fathers" of the modern military... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Tuxaua Linhares
5.0 out of 5 stars last 3rd of book was the best
I'm a casual reader, not a student of strategy, so the first two-thirds dragged for me simply because it presumed a reader would recognize the battles it discussed. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Kerry
5.0 out of 5 stars B. H. Liddell Hart
An under appreciated military genius, this book should be read with Sun-tzu, von Clauswitz, Napoleon, Frederick, Jomani, and Mushashi. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Publius Fidesiuscultus
4.0 out of 5 stars Supports Maneuver Warfare
Despite being slanted to support the author's preconceptions, this is a colorful and valuable look at military history. Read more
Published on May 6, 2012 by T.A.L. Dozer
2.0 out of 5 stars Politically Correct Discussion of Indirection as Strategy
This book has been regarded by many military people to be the best book on strategy ever published. Sir Basil's emphasis on indirection as the key to shortening and winning... Read more
Published on May 23, 2011 by Notinthepen
5.0 out of 5 stars Indirect approach
B.H. Lidell Hart is one of the most influential historians in history whose writings have influenced commanders such as Patton, MacArthur, Rommel, and Guderian. Read more
Published on March 15, 2011 by DeathToIran24
5.0 out of 5 stars The Strategy of the Indirect Approach
Some reviewers have criticized author Liddell Hart for being heavy handed in his support for the indirect approach. Read more
Published on January 29, 2010 by cpt matt
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