National Review / Digital
Best-Laid Plans
Strategy: A History, by Lawrence Freedman (Oxford, 768 pp., $34.95)


Strategy as we know it today is far more than the Greeks’ original and limited notion of strategika, the “things related to the art of generalship.” The latter meant nothing more than troop arrangement (taktika), siegecraft (poliorketika), artillery (belopoiika), and tricks (strategmata). No wonder that, from Onasander’s Strategikos (a first-century manual  on the duties of the general) to the Byzantine Maurice’s late-6th-century Strategika, such “strategic” reading is dull and slow-going.

After the Enlightenment, and particularly in the 19th century, strategy, while understood to have arisen from politics and war, expanded to the larger science of how rational thinking could achieve power and influence in a climate of resistance and uncertainty. By the late 20th century, if everyone had a strategy, from a professor wanting tenure to a Little League coach hoping to advance his son’s baseball future, the goal was still the same: to figure out how to acquire more of something, and then retain your winnings.

January 27, 2014    |     Volume LXVI, No. 1

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Florence King reviews The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way and It Wasn’t My Fault and I’ll Never Do It Again, by P. J. O’Rourke.
  • Victor Davis Hanson reviews Strategy: A History, by Lawrence Freedman.
  • Kevin D. Williamson reviews The Cure in the Code: How 20th-Century Law Is Undermining 21st-Century Medicine, by Peter W. Huber.
  • Victor Lee Austin reviews In Defence of War, by Nigel Biggar.
  • Ross Douthat reviews Her.
  • Richard Brookhiser discusses astronomy.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .