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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one is
Rupert Smith brings together his long and relevant experience of command in some of the more prickly theatres of conflict in our time in lucid writing to put through the message that the nature of "war" has changed irrevocably. And the armed forces too have to be reformed and thus prepared for the new conflicts

This book is one of its kind. Prospective buyers...
Published on 13 Nov 2006 by Khusro

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Relevant, but much too long and dry
In "The Utility of Force", Rupert Smith expounds his ideas on how to use force efficiently in the modern world, and outlines his view that conflicts today should not be seen through a paradigm of industrial war (as the world wars), but instead through a paradigm of prolonged confrontation (as the war in Afghanistan, or the Bosnian war).

Smith has excellent...
Published on 20 May 2012 by Alexander Sokol


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Relevant, but much too long and dry, 20 May 2012
By 
Alexander Sokol (Copenhagen, Denmark) - See all my reviews
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In "The Utility of Force", Rupert Smith expounds his ideas on how to use force efficiently in the modern world, and outlines his view that conflicts today should not be seen through a paradigm of industrial war (as the world wars), but instead through a paradigm of prolonged confrontation (as the war in Afghanistan, or the Bosnian war).

Smith has excellent credentials: He is a retired general who commanded the UN forces in Bosnia in 1995 and has served as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. Furthermore, he has clearly done his research for the book properly, and presents many real-world examples throughout the book. Through his examples and arguments, Smith concludes that most states are viewing conflicts through the paradigm of industrial war, and concludes that this leads to an inefficient use of military force. Smith identifies several factors present in many modern conflicts which make the conventional paradigm of industrial war less useful, for example that in many modern conflicts, the enemy is non-state and hard to identify as a cohesive group, and that many modern military operations are set in the context of political goals which are considerably more complicated than simply the defeat of the enemy military forces. He discusses how military intervention should change based on these observations.

All this is interesting and obviously relevant, and provides the fundament for an interesting book. However, the book has a major drawback. Put bluntly, it is simply very long-winded, very academic, somewhat repetitive and often rather boring to read. Also, more than half of the book is basically a history book, discussing the Napoleonic wars, the birth of military theory, the world wars and the cold war, and it is not until page 267 (of 404) that Smith really begins discussing his paradigm in the context of modern conflict proper. This implies that if you are in fact looking for a book about "The Art of War in the Modern World", it will take a good deal of patience on your part before you find what you're looking for.

The ultimate theme of the book - how force can be used efficiently in our modern world - is interesting and important. But the nature of Smith's treatise of the topic unfortunately detracts from the quality of the book, and makes it unnecessarily hard reading.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one is, 13 Nov 2006
Rupert Smith brings together his long and relevant experience of command in some of the more prickly theatres of conflict in our time in lucid writing to put through the message that the nature of "war" has changed irrevocably. And the armed forces too have to be reformed and thus prepared for the new conflicts

This book is one of its kind. Prospective buyers may like to get the book's flavour from the mp3 audio of Rupert Smith's recent lecture (of the same title) at the RSA, and the questions and answers that followed (website~ [...]
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, obvious, brilliant., 7 Feb 2007
By 
Nicholas Walton (London) - See all my reviews
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What the man says is not rocket science, but that's why this book is even more necessary.

It's about understanding the nature of what the conflict now is and what you want to get out of it. Once that's understood, make sure your organisation, tactics, strategy and resources fit.

And yet it's so obvious that this simple formula is routinely ignored by governments, not least of all our own one, and indeed armed forces.

It also reminds me as a journalist how many of my own profession don't understand what they're talking about when reporting on conflict - a modern journalistic blindspot as big as the lack of understanding of economics. This book ought to be mandatory reading for every foreign desk.

The best bits include the author's disection of various historic paradigm changes in conflict. The only criticisms that spring to mind are that he doesn't seem to give much of a rundown of things like the equipment changes that modern warfare demand, and that he can come across as a touch overbearing and arrogant, although this is no more than an impression and spoils nothing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in sight to War, 10 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World (Kindle Edition)
This book gave me a fascinating in sight to war. With different types of war & how they occur.
Some parts. I found trying, but got the jist for most of it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anybody with an interest in military affairs, 12 Mar 2013
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I found this book to be hugely informative and enlightening, with a rich and well researched knowledge base. (General Sir) Rupert Smith has bucked the trend of retired soldiers writing memoirs of their exploits in the military, instead opting to write a much more academic piece.

While this offering may read a little like an extended dissertation to some, the pay off is worthwhile. I would highly recommend this to anybody applying to the armed forces as it will hugely boost one's background knowledge and ability to speak confidently on the subject of the nature of warfare.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 28 Jan 2013
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Can see it was used to guide some FR20 principles. Didn't find where it said to make so many hard working, long service and top quality personnel redundant though.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading, 14 Dec 2006
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While not sharing Rupert Smith's opinion that warfare is somehow hard-wired into human beings - the incidence of war varies greatly in different countries and at different times (e.g. Sweden, once very warlike, hasn't been involved in armed combat for nearly 200 years) - this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand modern warfare. It explains very clearly, for example, why the invasion of Iraq was doomed from the outset and why the current strategy will certainly fail. From a former top soldier this is devastating stuff.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative but very wordy., 20 Nov 2010
This book reflects upon past wars with a 'somewhat' refreshing insight. The author does state that he is not a historian but a student of history. The book is a easy read from the start, however this quickly stops when you are three quarters of the way into the book. The perspective that is presented in this book is structured in a good around method. But there does appear to be an tendency to repeat this point of view again and again. In some chapters I was left with the impression that the particular argument had already been made. Apart from the book saying the same thing in so many different ways it is a good read. With some impressive insight in the conflicts that the author has partaken in especially.

If you like military history and do not mind the sometimes heavy wording then this is for you.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars food for thought, 17 Aug 2010
Most thoughtfull book I have read in the past years. The author, as an officer brings more to the table than the usual suspects (i.e. M. Creveld and other academics) and the very boring retired US officers.
Recommended read for all practitoners and policy makers as well.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, if wordy read., 8 April 2010
The author's military experience is a very useful corrective to any amount of war theory by armchair warriors. However much of the material is repetitive and overlength and sometimes the reader feels as if he is being spoken down to by an immensely patronising figure. The history of the evolving tropes of warfare is useful, as is the insistence of the author that all conflicts need to be viewed in the round to generate the appropriate application of force to render a useful outcome. It might be nice to have some statesmen pick up on this and consider the utility of victory as a theme, ie optimising the outcome of a conflict rather than prolonging the justification for having begun it in the first place. I was reading this, and some other books, to try and see if there is a better way forward than the debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan and it strikes me that the flip side of the utility of force is that the insurgents have embraced the force of utility as their credo, and it works, alas.
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