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The Practice of Strategy: From Alexander the Great to the Present

Overview

The Practice of Strategy focuses on grand strategy and military strategy as practiced over an extended period of time and under very different circumstances, from the campaigns of Alexander the Great to insurgencies and counter-insurgencies in present-day Afghanistan and Iraq. It presents strategy as it pertained not only to wars, campaigns, and battles, but also to times of peace that were over-shadowed by the threat of war. The book is intended to deepen understanding of the phenomena and logic of strategy by ...

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Overview

The Practice of Strategy focuses on grand strategy and military strategy as practiced over an extended period of time and under very different circumstances, from the campaigns of Alexander the Great to insurgencies and counter-insurgencies in present-day Afghanistan and Iraq. It presents strategy as it pertained not only to wars, campaigns, and battles, but also to times of peace that were over-shadowed by the threat of war. The book is intended to deepen understanding of the phenomena and logic of strategy by reconstructing the considerations and factors that shaped imperial and nation-state policies.

Through historical case studies, the book sheds light on a fundamental question: is there a unity to all strategic experience? Adopting the working definition of strategy as 'the art of winning by purposely matching ends, ways and means,' these chapters deal with the intrinsic nature of war and strategy and the characteristics of a particular strategy in a given conflict. They show that a specific convergence of political objectives, operational schemes of manoeuvre, tactical moves and countermoves, technological innovations and limitations, geographic settings, transient emotions and more made each conflict studied unique. Yet, despite the extraordinary variety of the people, circumstances, and motives discussed in this book, there is a strong case for continuity in the application of strategy from the olden days to the present.

Together, these chapters reveal that grand strategy and military strategy have elements of continuity and change, art and science. They further suggest that the element of continuity lies in the essential nature of strategy and war, while the element of change lies in the character of individual strategies and wars.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The art of strategy is the art of generals. Too often it is confused with management, consulting or corporate administration. The Practice of Strategy is a welcome departure from that mode of thinking. There is, and always has been, a vital role in the understanding of the true meaning of strategy. It is the process of achieving the aims of the state, either defending from aggression or exploiting opportunity. As Olsen and Gray put it: 'Strategy is a 'how to do it' study.' Never has that lesson been more welcome."—General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, UK

"The complexity of contemporary security crises highlights the critical importance of an understanding of the theory and practice of strategy. This book is a clear thinking analysis which is both timely and relevant and I commend it to decision maker and general reader alike."—General Sir Richard Shirreff, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe

"This excellent collection of essays is recommended reading for all those who seek to understand strategy and its use. It should be read by those struggling to act effectively with armed force in our present circumstances, and by those who try to comprehend why it is apparently so difficult to do so. The essays show clearly the enduring need for strategy if one is to achieve ones purpose in the face of resistance. Now that we tend to act strategically in multinational groupings while policy remains with the state it is even more important to understand and act on these lessons."—General Sir Rupert Smith, former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199608638
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/13/2012
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John Andreas Olsen is Deputy Commander and Chief of the NATO Advisory Team at NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo, and Visiting Professor of Operational Art and Tactics at the Swedish National Defence College. He is an active-duty colonel in the Norwegian Air Force and his recent assignments include tours as the Norwegian liaison officer to the German Operational Command in Potsdam and as the military assistant to the attache in Berlin.

Colin S. Gray is Professor of International Politics and Strategic Studies at the University of Reading. He has written pioneering and controversial studies on nuclear strategy, arms control, maritime strategy, and geopolitics, and is the author of twenty books, more than 300 articles, and several dozen reports for governments. His most recent publications include Another Bloody Century, Fighting Talk, and The Strategy Bridge (OUP 2011).

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Table of Contents

Introduction, John Andreas Olsen
Part I: Ancient and Mediaeval
1. The Campaigns of Alexander the Great, David J. Lonsdale
2. The Roman Republic: From Monarchy to Julius Caesar, Israel Shatzman
3. The Byzantine Empire: From Attila to the 4th Crusade, Edward N. Luttwak
4. The Hundred Years War, 1337-1453, Anne Curry
Part II: Mediaeval and Modern
5. The Ottomans: From Frontier Principality to Empire, Gabor Agoston
6. The Thirty Years War, 1618-1648, David Parrott
7. Britain and the 'Long' 18th Century, 1688-1815, Jeremy Black
8. Britain and the Napoleonic Wars, Charles Esdaile
Part III: Modern and Contemporary
9. The American Civil War, Williamson Murray
10. The First and Second World Wars, Martin van Creveld
11. The Nuclear Age and the Cold War, Colin S. Gray
12. Modern Irregular Warfare: Afghanistan and Iraq, James D. Kiras
Conclusion, Colin S. Gray

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