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Strategic doctrine and political practice

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2009


Publishers' lists and new acquisition shelves reveal a profligacy of writing on strategy. Moreover, this vast quantity covers a rich variety of approaches to the subject, such as case studies, policy oriented studies, narrative histories, behavioural analyses, thinking on the 'big' questions of war, peace and security, and thinking about thinkers. This article reviews books covering three very different approaches to strategy, two traditional and one highly original. Of the three only the last explicitly considers method, yet the three reveal very different methodological concerns which have perhaps received too little attention in the study of strategy.

Review Article
Copyright © British International Studies Association 1988

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1. Earle, Edward Mead (ed., with the collaboration of Craig, Gordon A. and Gilbert, Felix), Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler (Princeton, 1943).Google Scholar

2. Freedman, Lawrence, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (London, 1981).Google Scholar

3. cf. Gray, Colin S., ‘Across the nuclear divide: strategic studies past and present’, International Security, vol. 2, no. 1 (Summer 1977).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

4. Kaplan, Fred, The Wizards of Armageddon (New York, 1983).Google Scholar

5. Waltz, Kenneth, Theory of International Politics (Reading, Mass., 1979)Google Scholar; Allison, Graham, Essence of Decision (Boston, 1971).Google Scholar

6. Mearsheimer, John J., Conventional Deterrence (Ithaca., NY, 1983)Google Scholar; Snyder, Jack, The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914 (Ithaca, NY, 1984).Google Scholar