- Series: Meridian
- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Plume; 2nd Revised ed. edition (March 30, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0452010713
- ISBN-13: 978-0452010710
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 82 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Strategy: Second Revised Edition (Meridian) 2nd Revised ed. Edition
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"The most important book by one of the outstanding military authorities of our time."—Library Journal
“No man has devoted more concentrated thought to the nature and problems of strategy.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A major work… bristles with challenges to the mind.”—Saturday Review
“Brilliant… a classic in military literature.”—Marine Corps Gazette
About the Author
Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, commonly known as Captain B. H. Liddell Hart, was an English soldier, military historian, military theorist, and author of many books, including Strategy, The German Generals Talk, The Memoirs of Captain Liddell Hart, and History of the Second World War.
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Drawing on examples from 490 BCE to 1949, he builds the case for his theories on military action. Because of this, it is important to remember that this is not a history, but exposition on a specific theory which was in the minority when initially formed. Overall, he makes his case well, but there are a few points that deserve attention. The case could be made that L-H played fast and loose with historical fact to support his position, but this may be an over-statement. He certainly denigrates "decisive engagement", but completely ignores the concept of "over match". He also glosses over the impact of strategic over-reach on tactics and operations.
He wrote a passable chapter on guerrilla warfare (Chap. 23), but failed to integrate 'small war' into his writing when he had numerous opportunities. Guerrilla warfare is the ultimate expression of 'indirect approach', but L-H neglected to mention why, historically, guerrilla operations are selected as a path to an objective (Hint: lack of a critical strategic resource).
I was disappointed by the way he glossed over communications technology. What caught my attention was when he disparaged Napoleon's lack of communications, when Napoleon had used an emerging technology, the Chappelle semaphore to direct operations in the Russian campaign with the fastest rate of long distance achieved in history to that point. From the context, it is clear that L-H spent a lot more time discussing 'communication' as 'logistical support system' rather than 'system for moving information in support of command'. This was particularly disappointing as robust, high speed communications has profound implications for his theories of war.
By the end, I found myself comparing L-H's 'indirect approach' to briefings I received on 'information warfare' in the 1990s; everything that is not 'direct approach' is 'Indirect Approach'! Enthusiastic, but not always helpful.
As a side note, I thought it interesting that some of his axioms of strategy in "The Concentrated Essence of Strategy and Tactics" are derived from fencing.
Definitely not the first book you should read for an understanding of strategy, but a useful one.
Edward M. Van Court
This timeless classic is in two parts.
The first part is analysis of over 200 military battles across all ages of history to show that head on military attacks rarely succeed. I found that to cover all these battles, the analysis was so limited and brief, and maps often lacking detail, that much of it didnt mean anything. Luckily I had read about many of these battles previously and could follow on, but I reckon this section could bore and lose many people.
The second part is the great bit that makes this book a classic that should be read all high level military and defence politicians - luckily for them its also the shorter bit! It looks at the definitions of peace and strategy and concludes that the aim of war is 'to provide a better peace'. How many times has a winning side suffered so badly that it was worse off also in absolute terms than before the war? Often there are better ways to build a constructive long term peace (for everyone) if war was not simply seen as a race to crush your opponent in a climatic battle. Taking the 'indirect approach' can not only allow that better peace but by avoiding the bloody battles it saves lives on both sides - a surprisingly humane touch for such the cold subject of military strategy. His analysis of the overbearing effect of Clausewitz on modern strategy in seeking the climatic battle was thought provoking.
A good read for strategic thinkers and wargammers - if you get stuck on the first part of the book, then read the second bit on theory of strategy. You can then use the index to chase up the pages of the various battles he uses in support of his arguments, if you want that extra historical detail
regards and happy reading