Book Review of Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace rev. and enlarged ed. by Edward N. Luttwak Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2001
Wirtz, James J.
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In the 1980s scholars in the ªelds of history and political science rediscovered the work of Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian philosopher of war. This renewed interest sparked a brief revival of the study of war and strategy (the latter of which encompasses efforts to exploit war’s dialectic to achieve military and political victory). After relying for decades on operations research to minimize the likelihood of nuclear war by bolstering deterrence—an approach that largely eliminated the need for traditional strategy—scholars began to resurrect, apply, and sometimes misapply Clausewitz’s writings. Originally published in 1987, Edward Luttwak’s Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace was probably the best work of the Clausewitzian revival because it offered a clear summary of the great philosopher’s insights into war’s dialectic. In the process, Luttwak articulated a concise theory of war. Despite what Les Aspin had to say about the original edition of Strategy (“Luttwak presents a new universal theory of strategy”), there is little new in either the original or the revised version. Nevertheless, the book constitutes an outstanding achievement: Luttwak has written what amounts to a “Cliff Notes” for one of the most difficult and misunderstood volumes of all time, Clausewitz’s On War.
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