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Elements of War

"A sweeping, authoritative look at the workings of warfare." --Kirkus Reviews

ELEMENTS OF WAR examines war and warfare in ways that challenge some of the most deeply held conceptions of armed conflict.

War involves myriad violent actions against often intractable foes, across varied and difficult environments, in pursuit of broad strategic aims, making it perhaps the most complex and consequential of all human activities. This volume presents nontraditional and even innovative ways of thinking about war and its constituent elements, and suggests that we may comprehend war better if we study it through the lens of theory of knowledge.

Is it possible to understand war in its totality? Perhaps not, but it does us well to try--even if we never approach any sort of unified theory to guide our strategic and tactical aims.


"In these pages, the author discusses both standard military theory and elaborations on modern modes of engagement and levels of technology, all grouped under the general heading of “Command and Momentum.” He ... draws on a wide variety of sources and examples, from ancient Greece and the Old Testament to Operation Desert Storm and beyond. He uses various conceptual aids, including a flowchart he calls the “war tree” (“an interesting but unwieldy tool”) to illustrate his concepts. As in most works on military history or theory, this has a density that can sometimes make for tedious reading.... But when Rinehart is clear, his observations are sharp, as when he notes that “for most peace-loving peoples, the will to fight is different from the desire to fight.” He’s notably candid about the blurring role that “fog and friction” can have on both the practice and the study of war on the ground, and the enormous range of examples he has at his fingertips serves to illustrate this very effectively. For an audience of military cadets of various kinds, this will be a particularly useful read, but many lay readers will find parts of this book thought-provoking.

" A sweeping, authoritative look at the workings of warfare." --Kirkus Reviews


Gray Rinehart
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