Book Review: The Shaping of Grand Strategy: Policy, Diplomacy, and War


by Williamson Murray, Richard Hart Sinnreich, & James Lacey, editors

New York: Cambrdige University Press, 2011. Pp. ix, 283. Notes, index. $27.97 paper. ISBN: 978-0-521-15633-2

This valuable work by three notable military historians and thinkers, The Shaping of Grand Strategy opens with an introductory essay by Prof. Murrayon the nature of grand strategy, that roams across history, from the Peloponnesian War to the present in order to identify factors that help shape grand strategy, which include, among others, geography and economic power, government openness, and particularly able leadership.

This is followed by seven essays, some by the editors and the rest by several other distinguished scholars, discussing the framing of grand strategy by various war lords from the mid-seventeenth century to the Cold War.  Among the essays are ones by John A. Lynn II on the wars of Louis XIV, Jeremy Black on the Seven Years’ War, Sinnreichon Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Colin S. Gray on Truman and the dawn of the Cold War.

In the conclusion, Sinnreich uses these essays as the basis of identifying patterns in the development of grand strategy that lead to success or to failure.  Along the way, the authors identify those whom they consider the most notable strategists of the modern era, a list that surprisingly includes Marlborough and Lincoln with Bismarck, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Truman, while excluding Napoleon.

The Shaping of Grand Strategy is important reading for anyone interested in shaping of wartime policy.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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