Aid to understanding headlines. Classic essays on war

Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, edited by Peter Paret. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. 941 pp. $55, cloth; $12.95, paper. The original ``Makers of Modern Strategy,'' published in 1943, was meant to fill an important gap in the education of Americans. Edward M. Earle and his contributors conceived of their volume as a historical primer in military matters; they knew the importance ``of enlightened and determined citizens'' to a democracy at war. In 21 essays, Earle and his associates analyzed ``the manner in which the strategy of modern war has developed.'' Their aim was to show that strategy is concerned with more than armies and navies. Wars, they argued, are an ``inherent part of society'': Modes of waging war reflect differing cultural contexts, while success in war depends upon ``controlling and utilizing the [entire] resources of a nation.'' The book served the needs of the hour -- and two succeeding generations -- admirably.

The new ``Makers of Modern Strategy,'' edited by Peter Paret, seeks the same objectives as its predecessor, but for a generation facing a variety of new and more ominous threats to its security. Professor Paret and his contributors continue to develop the theme that strategy consists of both ``military and nonmilitary factors.'' And they retain the conviction that understanding ``the phenomenon of war'' can ``help us think about the present and future.''

Paret's ``Makers of Modern Strategy'' differs from Earle's not in philosophy, but in the range of topics it addresses. The new book reflects the intellectual, political, and military changes of the last 40 years. Only seven essays remain from the original text -- and four of those have been revised. The volume has grown by seven essays and 400 pages.

Paret recognizes the need to carry the discussion of strategy beyond the ``major theorists.'' Thus his own essay on Napoleon now prefaces essays on the Frenchman's interpreters, Jomini and Clausewitz. Next, the editor acknowledges the growing importance of the world outside Western Europe. The book now offers analyses of American and Soviet strategic thought, as well as some consideration of developments in the third world. Finally, Paret and his colleagues consider subjects that were either not fully appreciated in 1943, such as air power and guerrilla war, or technologies that did not yet exist, such as nuclear weapons.

Many of the contributors address, either implicitly or explicitly, important contemporary concerns. For instance, two complementary essays on the Russian experience now supplement a study of Marx and Engels. This juxtaposition enables one to grasp the complex interaction of ideology and experience in Soviet thinking.

The final series of essays take up contemporary concerns more directly. Lawrence Freedman argues that nuclear strategists, even after 40 years, have yet to devise a plan that does not ``wholly offend common sense.'' As Michael Carver then points out, the consequence has been -- and must be -- continued conventional wars. Nothing else is ``rational.'' Most relevant of all, however, is the essay by John Shy and Thomas W. Collier on the origins and nature of guerrilla or revolutionary war. The intellectual roots of this mode of warfare extend well into the past; its frequency now stems from unaddressed ``human misery.'' Perhaps these essays help us to understand today's headlines.

You will not want to consume this book all at once; its tone is scholarly and its material complex. It must be the starting point for any serious military history collection, and a vital primer for citizens concerned about contemporary defense issues. And, in today's world, that should be almost everyone.

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