The wars since 9/11, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, have generated frustration and an increasing sense of failure in the West. Much of the blame has been attributed to poor strategy. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, public enquiries and defence think tanks have detected a lack of consistent direction, of effective communication, and of governmental coordination. In this important book, Sir Hew Strachan, one of the world's leading military historians, reveals how these failures resulted from a fundamental misreading and misapplication of strategy itself. He argues that the wars since 2001 have not in reality been as 'new' as has been widely assumed and that we need to adopt a more historical approach to contemporary strategy in order to identify what is really changing in how we wage war. If war is to fulfil the aims of policy, then we need first to understand war.
Hew Strachan (University of Oxford)
Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:
05 December 2013
Professional and scholarly
Introduction; 1. War and strategy at the beginning of the twenty-first century; 2. The meaning of strategy: historical perspectives; 3. The case for Clausewitz: reading 'On War' today; 4. Making strategy work: civil-military relations in Britain and the United States; 5. Strategy and the limitation of war; 6. Europe armies and limited war; 7. The limitations of strategic culture: the case of the British way in warfare; 8. Maritime strategy and national policy; 9. Technology and strategy; 10. War is war: imperial legacies and current conflicts; 11. Strategy and the operational level of war; 12. Strategy and contingency; 13. Strategy: change and continuity.
Hew Strachan is Chichele Professor of the History of War at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of All Souls College. Between 2004 and 2012 he was the Director of the Oxford Programme on the Changing Character of War. He also serves on the Strategic Advisory Panel of the Chief of the Defence Staff, on the UK Defence Academy Advisory Board, and on the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Foreign Policy listed him as one of the most influential global thinkers for 2012 and he was knighted in the New Year's Honours for 2013. His books include the first volume of his projected three-volume work The First World War (2001), which was awarded two American military history prizes and nominated for the Glenfiddich Scottish book of the year; The First World War: A New Illustrated History (2003), published to accompany a ten-part television series for Channel 4 and nominated for a British Book Award; and Carl von Clausewitz's On War (2007). His recent edited volumes include The Changing Character of War (2011) and How Fighting Ends (2012).
Reviews for The Direction of War: Contemporary Strategy in Historical Perspective
'A valuable and historical collection of essays tracing an esteemed scholar's contributions to contemporary strategic thinking.' Antulio Echevarria, Strategic Studies Institute, United States Army War College 'Strachan's historical analyses are a valuable addition to the literature on strategy. He invites the reader to think carefully about what we think we know and understand about strategy, and, perhaps more significantly, why we understand and think about strategy the way we do today.' Terry Terriff, University of Calgary 'Unparalleled in historic depth of argument, a surprising yet seductive view on whether modern war should bend to the demands of politics, or politics to the needs of war.' Jan Willem Honig, King's College London