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The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Books (August 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158834178X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588341785
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“John Boyd was a remarkable patriot whose intense commitment to learning and teaching the lessons of history changed American military doctrine and made Desert Storm possible. This study is an invaluable contribution to a little known part of our military history.”—Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the US House of Representatives

“John Boyd was one of the greatest military and strategic thinkers of our time. His story and his brilliance are superbly captured in Grant Hammond’s excellent book. This is a must read for all those who want to understand how to think about war and to learn about a true American hero.”—General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC, former commander of CENTCOM

“One of the most important books on airpower theory, strategy, technology, organization, and history to come out this year is Grant Hammond’s biography of Col. John Boyd, USAF. Appropriately, it is larger than life – Boyd’s life – for the United States Air Force of today reflects the impact of many of Boyd’s ideas.” – Aerospace Power Journal

“This book is exceptionally relevant conceptually to… ‘fighting’ a global ‘war’ on terrorism using military resources… John Boyd’s lifelong dedication helps us learn to successfully observe, assess, decide, and act before, during, and after we have been challenged or surprised.” – Journal of Contemporary Security Policy

From the Inside Flap

The ideas of U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd (1927-1997) have transformed American military policy and practice. A first-rate fighter pilot and a self-taught scholar, he wrote the first manual on jet aerial combat; spearheaded the design of both of the Air Force's premier fighters, the F-15 and the F-16; and shaped the tactics that saved lives during the Vietnam War and the strategies that won the Gulf War. In addition, Boyd led the Military Reform Movement in the 1970s and the 1980s, calling for radical change in Pentagon procurement procedures. A perceptive and original thinker, he synthesized ideas from across disciplines to formulate his own philosophy about warfare, competition, decision making, and the nature of leadership.

Many of America's best-known military and political leaders consulted Boyd on matters of technology, strategy, and theory. His notions of time cycles and competitive behavior--known as OODA loops (Observation, Orientation, Decision, and Action)--have influenced not only military combat but also business models in the United States and abroad. Yet despite Boyd's influence within the military and in a variety of professional circles, he published nothing, preferring military briefings as his medium.

In "The Mind of War", Grant T. Hammond offers the first complete portrait of Boyd, his groundbreaking ideas, and his enduring legacy. Based on extensive interviews with Boyd and with those who knew him as well as on a close analysis of Boyd's briefings, this intellectual biography brings the work of an extraordinary thinker to a broader public. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

A must read for anyone interested in game/war theory.
eliterandomaccount
It is difficult for any single book to do the same in so few pages but it this one comes close to the mark.
Stratiotes Doxha Theon
Grant Hammond has written a superb profile of John Boyd and his ideas.
Jeffrey Record

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 77 people found the following review helpful By JR Dunn on June 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A well-written, clear, and perfectly adequate introduction to the life and thought of John Boyd, arguably the most influential American military thinker of modern times.
Coram's BOYD is the "good read", this one's for the student and theorist.
Curiously, some of the anecdotes involving Boyd's life differ completely from Coram's volume, e.g., the events surrounding the birth of Energy Maneuverability at Georgia Tech. I'm inclined to give the nod to Hammond here on the grounds that his versions tend to make more sense.
Although unquestionably an admirer of Boyd, Hammond's assessment is reasonable and balanced-he's quite open about Boyd's manifest flaws, his willful eccentricity above all, and makes it clear that Boyd was far from alone in his efforts to better the U.S. military.
There's a solid discussion of the OODA cycle, probably Boyd's greatest insight and most effective contribution to tactical thought (as the Republican Guard recently discovered). Hammond carries out preliminary work in placing Boyd's concept among those of other military thinkers, in particular Clausewitz, which is valuable if not as detailed as it might have been. He shows little familiarity with Asian strategists, many of whom were direct influences on Boyd's thought. (e.g., Miyamoto Mushashi: "In strategy there are various timing considerations. From the outset you must know the applicable timing and the inapplicable timing, and from among the large and small things and the fast and slow timings find the relevant timing... It is especially important to know the background timing, otherwise your strategy will become uncertain." -["A Book of Five Rings", Harris translation, P. 48.] How's that for your Boyd Cycle!
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Robert V. Gates on March 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
While I find it hard to disagree with some of the comments in the previous reviews, I would suggest that describing this as hagiographical is to criticize Hammond's performance of a job that he never undertook. The Mind of War, strictly speaking, is not a biography of John Boyd. It is better described as a presentation and discussion of Boyd's ideas. A person who is interested in learning about both Boyd's life and his ideas should read Robert Coram's book Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War along with The Mind of War. Grant Hammond has written a very important book. John Boyd's preferred form of communication was the military brief and, as a result, his ideas are virtually undocumented. Hammond had the opportunity to know and work with Boyd for six years and, to a significant degree, has written the book that Boyd never did.
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Record on July 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Grant Hammond has written a superb profile of John Boyd and his ideas. In so doing, he has publicized one of the most influential but least known American military thinkers of the Twentieth Century. Boyd was that rarity of a thinking man inside an ahistorical and anti-intellectual institution. This is not a book about the military reform movement of the 1970s and 1980s per se, but rather about a powerful mind that greatly indluenced the movement. Boyd, to be sure, was abrasive, but most mavericks are; their lot in life is to irritate the self-satisfied. Boyd was certainly more honorable than many of his detractors inside the Air Force. At last, someone has done justice to Boyd and his intellectual legacy
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Morgan H. Norval on March 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Grant Hammond has written a long-overdue book on Col. John P. Boyd, USAF, the man who was the American genius behind maneuver war. Unfortunatley for Boyd, being a amverick thinker, he was shunned by his service. Fortunately for America, others, especially the US Marine Corps, listened to Boyd and incorpoated his theory into their doctrine of manuever warfare. America is safer because of this man's vision, and Hammond brings the man and his accoplishments to the light of the public-- atlong last.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on April 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
An interesting point about the life of John Boyd, like many visionaries who came before and dramatically changed the way wars are fought is that they tend to not get promoted to very high rank. In a full career John Boyd was not promoted above Colonel. This sounds an awful lot like Billy Mitchell who proved that battleships could be sunk by air power when the battleship people knew, absolutely knew, that they couldn't.

Probably the most interesting part of this book is the story of the development of the F-16 "Lightweight" fighter. This fighter which has proven to be among the very best in the world, went through a torturous birth in two phases.

First, while James Schlesinger was Secretary of Defense, the F-16 was a non-nuclear capable lightweight fighter. The second part is one week after his departure, the requirement was modified to require the ability to carry nuclear weapons. Other changes in Part II added over two tons of electronics to the basic airplane.

The resulting plane, the author contends is a very good airplane, but "it is so much less than it might have been."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Levesque on March 19, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hammond presents a quasi-biography of John Boyd, who was the intellectual driver of the OODA loop and the author of "Patterns of Conflict." Although the book reviews Boyd's life, it is done with the intent of focusing on Boyd's intellectual contributions to US military thought and doctrine from the 1970s to 1990s. The author, despite knowing Boyd and being one of his fans, presents a balanced version of Boyd and his contribution, unlike Robert Coram's fun-to-read but biased biography. (Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War)
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