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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Handel handles Classical Strategic Thought, 7 Aug 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought (Paperback)
Ideal for the academic is how I would describe Handel's 'Masters of War'. This however should not deter the keen reader from purchasing the book as it is indeed a wonderful, clear and interesting read.
In the course of his analysis, Handel sets out to compare and contrast the different schools of thought that 'the greats' developed, with particular attention being paid to Sun Tzu and Von Clausewitz. His analysis shows both thought and understanding of the cultural and historic influences on both tacticians. Perhaps this is where the text comes into its own for the academic.
If one was to consider writing a study on the conduct and role of the military in this day and age, this book brings not only Sun Tzu and Von Clausewitz, but also Jomini and Machiavelli into focus. The student will hardly require a more comprehensive guide to different schools of thought for the construction of their essays. Another useful feature that Handel has adopted is the use of relevant questions pertaining to strategy as chapter starting points, thus improving both accessibility and clarity for the reader.
In conclusion therefore, I would reaffirm my belief that this text would prove invaluable for any classical military analyst attempting to find a text able to reduce the amount of time devoted to sifting through Sun Tzu's 'Art of War' and Von Clausewitz's 'On War'. However, taken out of this context, although highly readable, it is perhaps beyond the requirement of the casual reader whom might be better served reading abridged texts of the originals first.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking About War, 22 Aug 2012
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Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought (Paperback)
Handel is one of those rare writers on strategy that writes with clarity and incisive knowledge. He was also a superb teacher.
This puts him in the same class as Michael Howard and Colin Gray.
There are numerous books on the classical strategists, and different interpretations abound. This one is very sound and should be required reading for anyone engaged in strategic matters.
Handel at last demonstrates how unfairly Jomini has been treated by most writers.Jomini is always portrayed as a strategist who extols a 'scientific' approach to war, emphasizing principles, angles, and so on. Handel shows how Jomini only applied these to operations at a low level. At higher levels, for example at the level of the general Staff, he, like Clauswitz, stressed the uncertainty, chance and friction that pervades warfare. He would I feel have agreed with Tedder that war is:'organised chaos'.
It is also good to see Handel include Machiavelli for his stimulating writings on war and strategy are frequently ignored.
The most important message in this excellent book is that despite massive technological change classical strategists have still much to teach us, and that includes politicians and soldiers. It is a pity that these lessons and warnings of yesteryear were not taken on board before we embarked on the disastrous campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought
Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought by Michael I. Handel (Paperback - 29 Sep 2000)
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