Yet more edited collections

Formula: Take a general military topic and choose a case study from each period (however defined) for depth. Presumably this scatter-gun strategy improves sales? Feel free to discuss the positives and negatives of this approach in the comments.

First up, the English version:

Olsen, John Andreas and Colin S. Gray, eds. The Practice of Strategy: From Alexander the Great to the Present. Oxford University Press, 2011.


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.

Early modern chapters of note include:

  • Ágoston, Gábor. “The Ottomans: From Frontier Principality to Empire.”
  • Parrott, David. “The Thirty Years War, 1618-48.”
  • Black, Jeremy. “Britain and the ‘Long’ Eighteenth Century, 1688-1815.”


Then we have the American version:

Murray, Williamson, Richard Hart Sinnreich, and James Lacey, eds. The Shaping of Grand Strategy: Policy, Diplomacy and War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.


Within a variety of historical contexts, The Shaping of Grand Strategy addresses the most important tasks states have confronted: namely, how to protect their citizens against the short-range as well as long-range dangers their polities confront in the present and may confront in the future. To be successful, grand strategy demands that governments and leaders chart a course that involves more than simply reacting to immediate events. Above all, it demands they adapt to sudden and major changes in the international environment, which more often than not involves the outbreak of great conflicts but at times demands recognition of major economic, political, or diplomatic changes. This collection of essays explores the successes as well as failures of great states attempting to create grand strategies that work and aims at achieving an understanding of some of the extraordinary difficulties involved in casting, evolving, and adapting grand strategy to the realities of the world.

Early modern chapters:

  • John, Lynn. “The grand strategy of the Grand Siècle: learning from the wars of Louis XIV.”
  • Black, Jeremy. “Strategic culture and the Seven Years’ War.”




6 responses to “Yet more edited collections”

  1. John Grenier says :

    From my post yesterday…yawn.

    • jostwald says :

      I was fishing for that. Hook line and sinker!

    • jostwald says :

      Yet another:
      Murray, Williamson, and Peter Mansoor, eds. Hybrid Warfare: Fighting Complex Opponents from the Ancient World to the Present. Cambridge University Press, 2012.

      EMEMH article:
      Wayne Lee, “Keeping the Irish Down and the Spanish Out: English Strategies of Submission in Ireland, 1594-1603.”

      • John Grenier says :

        Always interested in what Wayne has to say. I’ll read this. A start in the right direction.

      • John Grenier says :

        Then again, simple opponents? simpleton opponents?

        Isn’t the ancient world to today pretty broad? The case study approach bothers me…it smells of “lessons learned” or not learned that the PME system loves. Lots of individual data points, instead of way points toward anything. Gotta run so I can fire up another cv entry. Sigh.

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