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Old 06-15-2003, 10:54 AM
KidCharlemagne is offline
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Need recommendation on military strategy/history books.

I'm looking for books on military strategy (formations, weapon choice, etc.) for any time period. Ideally it would be told with maps showing troops movements during actual campaigns and what the generals were thinking. Also some details on the how/why various formations, etc. I'm looking for specifics - for instance, whenever I see specials on the tactics used in Desert Storm, they show maps and arrows but I get no feel for the minutiae of the strategy. Thanks.
Old 06-15-2003, 12:15 PM
Little Nemo is online now
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You might want to check Strategy by B.H. Liddell Hart or A Military History of the Western World by J.F.C. Fuller. Both are general military histories with an operational emphasis written by military officers/historians. John Keegan is another highly respected military historian; I'd recommend The Face of Battle and The Mask of Command, but I'd point out that neither is intended as a general military history. Keegan has written a book called A History of Warfare but I haven't read it yet.
Old 06-15-2003, 12:43 PM
CyberPundit is offline
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How to Make War by James Dunnigan. No maps and it doesn't talk about specific wars but a great introduction to the nitty gritty of modern warfare. His other books are also pretty good and some of them discuss specific wars.

Also Atlas of Military Strategy by David Chandler which discusses the major Western wars from the 17th to 19th centuries with lots of maps.

Keegan's books are also excellent.
Old 06-16-2003, 08:56 AM
Sauron is offline
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A slightly different take (and one that probably wouldn't interest you, but still ...):

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. It's sci-fi/fantasy, but the strategy involved in the training for the space battles is brilliant, in my opinion.
Old 06-16-2003, 09:11 AM
KidCharlemagne is offline
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Yea, I've read Ender's Game. Great Book. Thanks for the recommendations, I'm amazoning them now.
Old 06-16-2003, 10:12 AM
js_africanus is offline
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two good primary sources

Here are two good primary sources. The first is Vegetius Renatus's Military Institutions of the Romans. He was a military reformer circa 300 A.D., IIRC, and he goes into some good detail about the make-up and tactics of the ancient Roman military. Very, very interesting & informative.

The second, if I'm remembering correctly, is Sun Bin's Art of War, it is titled "The Lost Art of War". This is by a descendent of Sun Tsu and while he speaks generally as Sun Tsu did, he does at some point give some specific tactical formations to use under varying circumstances. IIRC, I enjoyed this one more than I did Sun Tsu's Art of War.

Someone already mentioned Keegan's A History of Warfare. I don't know if it covers the tactical minutiae you are seeking, but I would advise it as a beginning read. I had the more-or-less exact same question as you: How can I find out about battle tactics? I asked a Master's student studying military history and he sent me to Keegan's book as a first source. It did cover many of the questions I had, e.g. it explained why mounted archers who spent their days herding sheep could massacre foot troops with stunning ease, and it covers a lot of other stuff as well. But it is not too much into the specifics of small unit movements and stuff.

For modern battlefield tactics, I don't know what to offer, but I get the impression that the tactics outlined by Vegetius & Sun Bin are fairly well applicable today. Recall recently a tank commander wrote a book called, IIRC, Breaking the Phalanx? Using the battle line has been an important tactical element whether your units are individual men with short swords, or tanks. (That author claims to have surpassed it.) Another example is that it is easier to clear a building from the top floor down. In that case you aren't putting your opponent on his death ground, in Sun Tsu's terminology, or giving him a golden bridge, in Machiavelli's terminology.

Regarding guerilla warfare, two good books are The Devil's Guard by Elford. It is out of print, so you'll probably have to go to interlibrary loan. It tells the story of a former Wermacht (sp?) officer fighting for the French Foreign Legion in Indochina. The other book, which the aforementioned officer refers to as the "bible of jungle warfare" is Chapman's The Jungle is Neutral. That is the first hand account of a British officer caught behind Japanese lines during WWII, in Malayasia, IIRC. Both very good.

If you find any good books detailing modern battle field tactics, don't be afraid to let us know.
Old 06-16-2003, 10:54 AM
jinty is offline
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I'll second John Keegan; he writes great stuff, and goes into areas - such as graphic descriptions of the shattering effects of combat on an infantry unit - that few other authors bother with.

Also, Carlo D'Este has written some interesting books about WW2 that might be what you're looking for. E.g. Decision in Normandy goes into a lot of detail about tactics & strategy, and the problems the allied generals faced.

Finally, Correlli Barnett is good in this area; e.g. The Swordbearers is about 4 high commanders in WW1 (2 German, 1 British, 1 French) and the problems they wrestled with, and is a very sympathetic & interesting study.
Old 06-16-2003, 11:00 AM
jinty is offline
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Oh, and I've just remembered an interesting website.

This might be way too narrow a topic for you; he goes into enormous detail on the ways a variety of nationalities organised their army battalions, right down to the number of men in a squad, their weapons, roles and so on. Also has various essays on the subject.
Old 06-16-2003, 10:02 PM
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The Campaigns of Napoleon by David Chandler is a good read.
Old 06-16-2003, 10:23 PM
Alcibiades is offline
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Von Clausewitz's book "On War" is mostly about contemporary military strategy, save for the famous last chapter on military philosophy.
Old 06-16-2003, 11:06 PM
bump is offline
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Originally posted by CyberPundit
How to Make War by James Dunnigan. No maps and it doesn't talk about specific wars but a great introduction to the nitty gritty of modern warfare.
Yes! While it's not a strategy/tactics book exactly, no other book I've read gives quite the level of insight into what is involved with modern warfare.

For history/strategy, "Lost Victories" by Erich von Manstein is interesting, and so is "Panzer Leader" by Heinz Guderian.

You sound like you're looking for tactical/operational information rather than strategy, when you say that the arrows on the map for Desert Storm are too broad for you.

I don't remeber the title, but there's a book out there where some 2nd LT dies, and goes to some sort of purgatory where he has to learn the proper tactics at the NTC(Ft. Irwin) before he's allowed into Heaven, or something like that. It was batallion-level tactics, IIRC. Good book though.

Finally, "Team Yankee" by Ralph Peters is a good read- it's the chronicle of a US tank/mech inf. company team in the hypothetical WWIII as described by Gen. Sir John Hackett.
Old 06-16-2003, 11:45 PM
Doomtrain is offline
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I think you'll find Team Yankee was written by Harold Coyle.

Most of Coyle's early tank/World War III stuff is very good. Sword Point and Bright Star are especially worthwhile, I think. I haven't read most of his more-recent stuff, so I can't comment there.
Old 06-17-2003, 05:59 AM
brainfizz is offline
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I can't believe nobody's mentioned "History of the Peloponnesian War", that and "Art of War" are considered possibly the most influential books in the history of military strategy.
Old 12-01-2014, 12:21 PM
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Old 12-01-2014, 02:10 PM
Dale Sams is offline
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Need answer fast?
Old 12-01-2014, 02:22 PM
shiftless is offline
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Originally Posted by Manduck View Post
The Campaigns of Napoleon by David Chandler is a good read.
Lot's of maps of the campaigns that give an idea of the difficulties involved in maneuvering 100s of thousands of men. Plus, it's about Napoleon - Can't get much better than that for military strategy.
Old 12-01-2014, 02:58 PM
Sitnam is offline
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It's a bit dry, but FM7-11 really cuts to the chase.


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