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