Book Review: Thoughts on War


by Philip S. Meilinger

Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2020. Pp. x, 300. Maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. $60.00. ISBN: 0813178894

Thinking About War

Dr. Meilinger, a retired Air Force colonel who taught strategy and policy at various military institutions, including the Air Force Academy, Naval War College, and the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, is the author of several works on air power and related subjects. This book consists of more than a dozen articles on a range of subjects in military thought and history.

In the first four papers Meilinger is highly critical of the value of Clausewitz to modern military thought, which is certainly controversial, and will be of particular interest to the friends and foes of the Prussian baron.

Several essays deal with some interesting case studies of the value of “Second Fronts”, “decisive victory”, time in war, and the lack of unity of command during the 1941 Norwegian campaign, this last, although a failure, was particularly important in the development of amphibious and inter-Allied operations.

The final papers address American military culture, the history of the role of American officers in politics, unity of command during the Pacific war, and on the Allied strategic bombing campaign against Germany. The book concludes with “The Emergence of a Paradigm”.

Several of the historical examples Meilinger cites are questionable. None of the papers appear to have been revised for inclusion in the work, and thus are they are based on outdated scholarship. In addition, there is an air power bias that threads through much of the work, notably in the lack of any criticism of the Douhetian/Mitchellite vision of air power.

Thoughts on War offers some interesting ideas for the military historian.




Note: Thoughts on War is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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