Top positive review
Excellent reference for the history of strategic thought
Reviewed in the United States on February 14, 2016
Make no mistake, "Strategy" is an extended argument for Liddell Hart's "indirect approach", using disruptive attacks or actions with the intent of creating psychological dislocation to set conditions for a main effort. Avoiding a contest of strength, or direct attack is the cornerstone of Liddell Hart's approach. B. H. Liddell Hart's "Strategy" was shaped by his personal experience in WW I which included the Battle of Sommes, surviving a gas attack, and being one of very few survivors from his unit. Needless to say, those experiences left a mark, and shaped and drove his desire to reshape military thinking in England.
Drawing on examples from 490 BCE to 1949, he builds the case for his theories on military action. Because of this, it is important to remember that this is not a history, but exposition on a specific theory which was in the minority when initially formed. Overall, he makes his case well, but there are a few points that deserve attention. The case could be made that L-H played fast and loose with historical fact to support his position, but this may be an over-statement. He certainly denigrates "decisive engagement", but completely ignores the concept of "over match". He also glosses over the impact of strategic over-reach on tactics and operations.
He wrote a passable chapter on guerrilla warfare (Chap. 23), but failed to integrate 'small war' into his writing when he had numerous opportunities. Guerrilla warfare is the ultimate expression of 'indirect approach', but L-H neglected to mention why, historically, guerrilla operations are selected as a path to an objective (Hint: lack of a critical strategic resource).
I was disappointed by the way he glossed over communications technology. What caught my attention was when he disparaged Napoleon's lack of communications, when Napoleon had used an emerging technology, the Chappelle semaphore to direct operations in the Russian campaign with the fastest rate of long distance achieved in history to that point. From the context, it is clear that L-H spent a lot more time discussing 'communication' as 'logistical support system' rather than 'system for moving information in support of command'. This was particularly disappointing as robust, high speed communications has profound implications for his theories of war.
By the end, I found myself comparing L-H's 'indirect approach' to briefings I received on 'information warfare' in the 1990s; everything that is not 'direct approach' is 'Indirect Approach'! Enthusiastic, but not always helpful.
As a side note, I thought it interesting that some of his axioms of strategy in "The Concentrated Essence of Strategy and Tactics" are derived from fencing.
Definitely not the first book you should read for an understanding of strategy, but a useful one.
Edward M. Van Court