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Publisher's Summary

A global account of military strategy, which examines the practices, rather than the theories, of the most significant military figures of the past 400 years.

Strategy has existed as long as there has been organized conflict. In this new account, Jeremy Black explores the ever-changing relationship between purpose, force, implementation, and effectiveness in military strategy and its dramatic impact on the development of the global power system. 

Taking a "total" view of strategy, Black looks at leading powers - notably the United States, China, Britain, and Russia - in the wider context of their competition and their domestic and international strengths. 

Ranging from France's Ancien Regime and Britain's empire building to present day conflicts in the Middle East, Black devotes particular attention to the strategic practice and decisions of the Kangxi Emperor, Clausewitz, Napoleon, and Hitler.

©2020 Jeremy Black (P)2020 Tantor

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  • Jeff Lacy
  • 28-06-2020

What was the rush, Matthew?

This is a challenging book to read and listen. It is not an introduction to strategy for the general reader. One needs to have a significant grounding in military history, to fully appreciate this book. I used the Audible to accompany my reading. Matthew Waterson read it in a rush. I found myself holding my breath from one long paragraph to another. There was no place to take a breath. What was Matthew’s rush? Was he on the clock? Did, they have to finish the book at a certain time? He spoke clearly, but fast.

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  • Tom
  • 12-12-2020

Bad leadership, not a stab in the back!

A very honest book. War is wasteful. This helps understand why, though not book purpose I expect.

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  • Jorge Santos
  • 28-06-2020

A rare miss from a leading military historian

This text may not be appealing to either a general or specialist audience. general readers will find the long, rambling introduction difficult to keep straight, and may not have the extensive background knowledge required to navigate the rapid tour of centuries of military and diplomatic history across the global north. Those with a strong grasp of history will find the historical survey accurate, but only gain nuggets of insight now and then.
For the glass half full: masterful narration makes for easier listening, and never stumbles across some challenging names in Russian, Ottoman, Mughal, and Chinese history. Black does reinforce the case against universal strategies persuasively, at least for those who get all the references. He makes the case that strategy must be understood as contingent, culturally rooted, and politically shaped in any era and for any power. He thus joins John A. Lynn's work on cultures of combat in refuting the universalist arguments of Victor Davis Hanson and John Keegan. Overall, I didn't mind listening, and disagreed with very little (though his Cold War chapter seems stuck in 1990), but found too little depth in the earlier period, and too little novelty in the 20th century.

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