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The strategic minds of the instrumental people behind civil wars, world wars, and ancient war are not easy to interpret. That being said, some authors have taken the time to delve into the details and explain the art of strategy to us every day folk. Some of the best war strategy books were written by previous generals, educated biographers, and researchers who spent years studying military strategy and the way it has transformed through the centuries.
On War by Carl von Clausewitz
One of the greatest books about war every man should read is On War by Carl von Clausewitz. Clausewitz became a Prussian Lance-Corporal at the young age of 12, and went on to become a Major-General. He fought in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and in this book, he discusses his experiences. He speaks about military analysis and the need for rapid decision making during battle. This book was published in 1832, and its lessons are still taught at many military colleges today.
The Direction of War: Contemporary Strategy in Historical Perspective by Hew Strachan
Strachan is a leading military historian, and in this book, he talks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. He explains military strategy by using a strategy paradox. He points out the lack of successful strategy used within these wars. Strachan believes that we don’t understand war anymore, and if we want to fulfill policy objectives, we must identify our shortcomings in order to change.
The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene
In The 33 Strategies of War, Robert Greene uses military strategy to teach everyday life lessons. He uses both offensive and defensive strategies to address social situations both in family and work outlets. This is one of the best war strategy books written because it delves into the history of military strategy, but it also applies to the modern world. It teaches people how to operate with a strategic mind, and shows how strategy works in all circumstances.
Strategy: A History by Lawrence Freedman
Sir Lawrence Freedman is known as one of the top experts on war and international politics. In his book, Strategy: A History, Freedman discusses the history of strategic thinking and the strategic mind. Freedman starts at the beginning, discussing strategy noticed in primates, and then goes on to discuss strategies seen in ancient texts such as Homer’s The Iliad. He moves his way through Machiavelli, Marx, through many other famous texts, and eventually leads up to the modern day.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
The Art of War by Sun Tzu is an ancient Chinese text that has been translated into English because Sun Tzu’s principles and strategies on war are seen as relevant throughout the world, notably designated as one of the greatest military books of all time. The Art of War has become a classic text that is taught on its own, but also, is mentioned in many other war strategy books. It is one of the best war strategy books to date, and Sun Tzu has gone down in history for his immense knowledge.
Strategy by B. H. Liddell Hart
Another one of the best war strategy books ever written is Strategy by B.H. Liddell Hart. This book is considered to be, “the classic book on military strategy,” and Hart is known as one of the best military thinkers of our time. He is sometimes referred to as, “the Clausewitz of the 20th century.” Hart discusses the art of strategy from World War I and World War II, and he determines that dismantling the enemy’s psyche and physicality is key to victory.
The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire by Edward Luttwak
The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire by Edward Luttwak delves deep into the time period from the first century A.D. to the third. Luttwak is a well known expert on strategic defense, and he uses maps and illustrations throughout this book to support every claim he makes. He explains both the strategies used throughout the Roman Empire, as well as the fighting tactics employed. This book provides historical background and analysis on strategy as a whole.
Modern Strategy by Colin Gray
Modern Strategy explains strategy as an overarching theory. This is one of the best war strategy books written because Gray delves into the ideas of Clausewitz and expands upon them. He talks about how modern day strategy has taken old strategies, which included land and sea, and grown those strategies into air space, ocean depths, and beyond.
The Grand Strategy of Philip II by Geoffrey Parker
In The Grand Strategy of Philip II, Geoffrey Parker explains the grand strategy behind Philip II of Spain’s ruling of the first global empire. This was a huge feat for Philip II to accomplish, and Parker goes into every detail of the King’s strategy, from his policies to his decision making and beyond. Laying out the history of one ruler such as this allows us to take this knowledge and use it in a larger landscape. The successes of others can teach us a lot about the art of strategy as a whole.
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by R Coram
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by R Coram discusses the life and accomplishments of John Boyd, who was a hero in military history. Some think of Boyd as, “the most influential military theorist since Sun Tzu.” Boyd created a manual of fighter pilot air tactics, and in this book, Coram explains everything that Boyd did to help revolutionize war strategy over time.
The best war strategy books ever written collectively explain the art of strategy and how the strategic mind works both in war situations and in everyday life. These books can be extremely useful in developing our war tactics for the future, so it is essential that we continue to read them and learn from the principles of our past. They can only be used as resources to supplement the books recommended by the US military for aspiring soldiers, and the smarter the soldier, the better their chances are of their survival and a successful campaign being launched.