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78 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE Book on Boyd
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...
Published on June 4, 2003 by JR Dunn

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36 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to an interesting man
No doubt about it, John Boyd's contributions to American military thought and technology deserve to be heralded. What's interesting is that a creative thinker is seen as so remarkable in the military that he deserves such heraldry. Creative, flexible, intuitive thinkers are prevalent throughout society; even if they don't know it. That John Boyd is so singular and unique...
Published on July 12, 2001


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78 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE Book on Boyd, June 4, 2003
By 
JR Dunn (New Brunswick,, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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! )
In Hammond's eyes, Boyd was a synthesist, applying previously isolated bits and pieces of knowledge to construct an overarching theory. A serious analysis of Boyd's work would require familiarity not only with strategy, but with quantum physics, modern clinical psychology, management theory, and half a dozen other equally arcane disciplines. To fully understand Boyd, one might be required to become Boyd!

One annoying note is Hammond's dismissal of Ronald Reagan's attempts to rebuild the military (something also found in Coram), implying that Boyd shared this loathing. If any actual evidence of this exists, I'd like to see it.
Finally, though he fails to make note of it, Hammond makes it quite apparent that Boyd was, above all else, a phenomenon better known in the East than our hemisphere. He was a sensei, a master, one who teaches arcane and difficult knowledge to a select group of followers, who then move on to teach others. This explains so much about Boyd-the almost medieval loyalty he inspired (even among people who never met him, as Gerald Martin points out about Coram in his insightful review of BOYD), his penchant for using the briefing as a teaching tool, the unwillingness to fit into any organization, the wandering from post to post, even the cheap and ragged clothes!
The sensei approach has its flaws (among them the master's unfitness for family life) sensei rarely do well at writing, which explains why Boyd never progressed with his magnum opus, "Creation and Destruction". This tends to throw the teachings into the hands of interpreters, some of whom may be less than capable. There's a danger that Boyd's thought might become Californized, in much the same way that the perfectly legitimate scientific field of quantum mechanics was rendered unrecognizable by various New Agers in the 70s and 80s.
But Hammond is not one of these. We need more--a carefully edited and annotated edition of the Green Book, to start with. (not to mention the tantalizing question: is there a videotape?) But we'll be discussing Boyd for a long time to come. Hammond's book is a fine introduction. It'll be awhile before we see better.
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Work, March 15, 2003
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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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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting Boyd Right, July 20, 2001
By 
Jeffrey Record (Montgomery, Alabama United States) - See all my reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Overdue homage for an American genius, March 10, 2002
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
5.0 out of 5 stars An Original Thinker Not Promoted Very High, April 4, 2005
This review is from: The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Boyd's intellectual contribution, March 19, 2006
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This review is from: The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security (Paperback)
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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36 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to an interesting man, July 12, 2001
By A Customer
No doubt about it, John Boyd's contributions to American military thought and technology deserve to be heralded. What's interesting is that a creative thinker is seen as so remarkable in the military that he deserves such heraldry. Creative, flexible, intuitive thinkers are prevalent throughout society; even if they don't know it. That John Boyd is so singular and unique over a 40-year period points to some very serious problems in the military. The synthesis of ideas from multiple disciplines, organic responses to management and decision making, and analogical reasoning are not sudden innovations. That John Boyd was so unique deserves recognition; however, that he was so unique is really disappointing too.
As for the book itself: it could be shorter. It is redundant. It is hagiographic of Boyd. In a way the presentation is in such stark terms of goodguy/badguy in the recounting of bureaucratic wars that the central points of Boyd's multi-dimensional analysis seem violated. The author is more of a technical expert than a sociological historian, so his recounting of the Military Reform Movement was severely lacking. He does not adequately present the position of Boyd's oppositiong, only to make them appear as greedy bufoons. The final chapters outlining Boyd's presentations are the most useful. However, he keeps returning to the same points continuously, perhaps with some alterations in terminology, that makes the reading get laborious.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boyd Revealed, October 30, 2007
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This review is from: The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security (Paperback)
Mr. Hammond's The Mind of War has made a major contribution into the philosophy and life of Colonel John R. Boyd. This work centers more around Boyd's work in aircraft design and his post-retirement contributions to maneuver warfare---which were too numerous to list in these pages. All Americans would benefit from reading Mr. Hammond's book and the book written by Mr. Robert Coram, BOYD, The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War (this book is on my top five biographies ever). Learning Boyd's philosophy and his multi-disciplinary approach has application from the battle-field to the boardroom. Highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Build your Boyd Library... and know more than the AF does!, November 16, 2008
This review is from: The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security (Paperback)
While not written in the same style as Coram's "Boyd: the Fighter Pilot who changed the art of war," Dr. Hammond's book fills the gap between the mythology of Boyd (Coram's book) and the void of nothingness (OODA training provided by the US Air Force in professional military education). Hammond's book gives a sense of scholarly study to Col Boyd's work, without the bluster of personal anecdotes. Don't get me wrong - I have loved almost every text I have read on Col Boyd, personal and professional... but for usefulness in military strategy study, Hammond's book is head and shoulders above the rest.

Let's be honest - We're not going to become "Acolytes" by reading Boyd biographies - those positions are already taken. But understanding the difficulties Col Boyd had in trying to change the art of war and military establishment, we can open our minds to the realm of possibility... that everything is linked, and we might influence the next generation's John Boyd.

Shame on the United States Air Force for neglecting Col Boyd's contributions. If anyone needs a reminder about mavericks and warfare prophets, think of General Billy Mitchell; he was court martialed for his ideas on airpower and is now lauded in the halls of Air University.

Bolster your Boyd Background - buy Hammond's book, Coram's book, and download Boyd's print works from [...]
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Just OK, March 5, 2009
By 
Ryan C. Holiday (Los Angeles, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security (Paperback)
John Boyd is one of the most underappreciated military thinkers in history. Of the last half-century, it's probably also fair to say that he was one of the only strategic thinkers of any position of power in the United States.

When it comes to this book, there are two problems. 1) Boyd didn't do himself justice. He hardly wrote anything down, he shunned attention and was highly combative. 2) Hammond hardly does Boyd justice either. This book is dry, dull and uninspired.

I'm sure the first problem exacerbated the second but there is no excuse for a lifeless book on such fascinating subject. There is no comparison between Mind of War and Robert Coram's "Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War."

In short, skip this book unless you're using it as a supplement for Coram's biography or for research purposes. If you're considering learning about Boyd for the first time, this is not the place to start.
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The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security
The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security by Grant Tedrick Hammond (Paperback - Aug. 2004)
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