Perspectives on Strategy

Perspectives on Strategy

by Colin S. Gray


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Perspectives on Strategy examines in depth five aspects of strategy. Strategic thought and behaviour are explored and explained from the perspectives of intellect, morality, culture, geography, and technology. Each perspective has attracted persisting controversy. Perspectives on Strategy is strongly complementary to the author's previous book, The Strategy Bridge: Theory for Practice (OUP, 2010). This new work takes a notably holistic view of strategic phenomena, which serves as a master framework within which detailed examination of strategic history and issues can usefully be pursued in the light of particular perspectives. Foundational for the argument in Perspectives on Strategy is the proposition that distinctive aspects of strategy (e.g. ethics, culture, inter alia) can only be appreciated properly when they are regarded in context. The author shares this view with T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia), who wrote of the 'whole house of war'. Perspectives on Strategy gratefully adapts Lawrence and writes about the 'whole house of strategy'. The book insists that the nature of strategy is best represented by a Venn diagram that shows overlapping perspectives. Thus, the subject of each chapter is shown as having meaning for, and in turn is influenced by, the subjects of the other chapters. For example, the book explores the importance of strategic ideas relative to the significance of the material weapons of war. The author poses the hardest of questions pertinent to each chosen perspective (e.g. do ideas matter more than muscle?-in practice how robust is the ethical code with which warfare is waged?-is geography destiny, as some theorists have claimed?-and do technically superior weapons win wars? Perspectives on Strategy demonstrates that it is possible to look closely at strategic matters from limited but arguably powerful perspectives, without being captured by them. This book asks and answers the most challenging and rewarding questions that can be posed in order to reveal the persisting universal nature, but ever changing character, of strategy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198778714
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 08/26/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Colin S. Gray worked at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London) and at Hudson Institute (Croton-on-Hudson, NY) before founding a defence-oriented think tank in the Washington, DC area, the National Institute for Public Policy. Dr. Gray served for 5 years in the Reagan administration on the president's General Advisory committee on arms Control and Disarmament. He has served as an adviser to both the US and the British governments (he has dual citizenship). His government work has included studies of nuclear strategy, arms control, maritime strategy, space strategy, and the use of Special Forces. Dr. Gray has written 25 books, including: The Strategy Bridge: Theory for Practice (Oxford University Press, 2010); and Airpower for Strategic Effect (Air University Press, 2012). Dr. Gray is a graduate of the Universities of Manchester and Oxford. He is Professor of International Politics and Strategic Studies at the University of Reading.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Introduction Master Narrative
1. Concepts: Mind and Muscle
2. Ethics: Strategy's Moral Maze
3. Culture: Beliefs, Customs, and Strategic Behaviour
4. Geography: Geopolitics and Deterrence
5. Technology: Magic Bullets?
6. Conclusion: The Whole House of Strategy, Perilous Dualism

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