Reading List (Update): Grand Strategy

By | September 16, 2018

[September 16, 2018]  Summer is passing quickly and it will not be long before the leaves fall from the trees and we start to experience the cool, dry air of early Autumn.  This is a great time of year and gives everyone the chance to re-calibrate our reading habits and desires to learn more about lessons from the past.  Today, I am highlighting one of my favorite books that I first read more than three decades ago and where I learned some valuable lessons in grand strategy.  Enjoy.

The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, Edward N. Luttwak, 1976.
If you are a “real” leader and want to see and understand grand strategy, the this book is an excellent place to start.  Yes, it does get into the weeds at times and pushes the idea that grand strategy is successful if only pursued over the long haul but it is a satisfying book in every way.  The author tells us about the Roman Empire’s defensive strategy through three of its most important eras.

While little is devoted to the Empire’s offensive strategy, keeping the focus on defense does show us how a relatively small nation could hold together a vast empire.  I think we would find that the British Empire used a similar, also successful, strategy of “client states,” “friends of the empire,” and “buffer states.”  One of their main principles is to conserve their military strengths while using effective diplomacy in hem in their enemies and help their alliances.

We learn that the might of the Roman Empire’s military strength and success of the empire was not based on military technology (the Romans did not possess the best fighting army) but on how the army and navy was used to supplement their diplomatic efforts.  All truly successful empires since the Greeks have used this method and it works.  Some claim that the United States is an empire (it is not) but the U.S. does use a similar grand strategy and has done so since the end of World War II.  Highly recommended.

To go to the full Professional Reading list, simply click on this direct link:

Side Note: Please remember and take a look at Tom Copeland’s reading blog.  His website, which I highly recommend, can be found here:

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Reading List (Update): Grand Strategy

  1. Janna Faulkner

    In one of my history classes in college, this book was on my required reading list. It has been a long time but I do remember it making an impression upon me that the Romans could do so much to hold their empire together for so long using methods that contrasted with the Greeks.

  2. Andrew Dooley

    Some folks are too lazy to read and rely on others like yourself to provide key lessons for leaders. That would be a grave mistake. The nuances and details of any book are also what reinforces important leader lessons. Reading is what makes us better. It might be only one of many ways but one that cannot be overlooked. So, thanks Gen Satterfield for an excellent book review.

  3. Billy Kenningston

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll also pass this along to my friends.

  4. Gil Johnson

    More readers should add books like this to what they read as a matter of course.

  5. Martin Shiell

    I never heard of this book before and am glad you recommended it. I’ve always been interested in strategy over tactics all my life. A bit of a nerd about this. I wish more folks were interested in it.

  6. Lynn Pitts

    This book was on our reading list early in my military career. I remember that it was very informative, a bit dry perhaps, but our discussions of the author’s conclusions were fascinating. Thanks for another great book recommendation.

  7. Willie Shrumburger

    I think you hit on a winner here with this book. Thank you.

  8. Doug Smith

    Thanks for the great book review. Not sure yet if I’ll get the book but I might check it out of the library before I decide to add it to my list of reading this Fall.

  9. Joe Omerrod

    Hey, thanks Gen. Satterfield for a recommendation on a book that addresses grand strategy. These books are both rare and worthwhile. How the author was able to determine grand strategy from the Roman Empire is beyond me but I guess that is something that can be done from results instead of documents.

  10. Ronny Fisher

    I ordered the book based on your review and look forward to it. I also read some of the on-line reviews and they also noted the quality of this book. Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. Bryan Lee

    Books that are truly good, never go away but continue to provide lessons that should never be forgotten. I too read the book (many years ago) and highly recommend it.

  12. Army Captain

    Good book. I recommend it to everyone who has time in their reading schedule for a book that will make you think. Older book but one that is as applicable today as when it was written.

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