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The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security Hardcover – May 1, 2001
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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.
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After this book was written, Robert Coram wrote an excellent biography of Boyd that also provided the reader with a detailed exposition of Boyd's ideas. Also in a highly technical and quite well done doctorial work, Royal Dutch Air Force Officer Frans Osinga provided an excellent dissertation on Boyd's development of his strategic theory of war from his original research and development work on aircraft fighter tactics. So don't these two fine books supercede this one?
Well for this reviewer at least they don't, they compliment this book. Boyd was a brilliant complicated thinker and Hammond's work will help to clarify Boyd's thinking and his approach to tactics, strategy, and war. This book clearly shows how Boyd, and his "fighter mafia", could have made the U.S. Department of Defense the center of national security policy instead of the center for log rolling and pork barrel politics that it is today. All who recognize Boyd's worth would be advised to read this book
What did the US Air Force allow this brilliant and obnoxious man of impeccable integrity to be? He was passed over twice to make full colonel. He came back to the Pentagon as a civilian paid one day per pay period. Our Marines loved him and history will treat this nobel hero kinder than the h u t a Air Force which wanted to kill the best fighter in the world because he developed it cheaply.