From Napoleon's revolutionary campaigns to the way insurgency, terrorism, and nuclear weaponry have defined the nature of warfare in the 21st century, the results of military strategy have changed the course of history. These 24 thought-provoking lectures give you an inside look at both the content and historical context of the world's greatest war strategists.
From the triremes and hoplites of ancient Greece to the Special Forces in 21st-century Afghanistan, strategy is the process by which political objectives are translated into military action - using the means at a nation's disposal to compel an enemy to bend to its political will.
In this concise and rigorous survey, Professor Wilson introduces: Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War; Sun Tzu's famous The Art of War; Machiavelli's strategy for a republic with a citizen-army; Jomini, Clausewitz, and the Napoleonic revolution in warfare; the development of naval strategy and the rise of airpower; Mao Tse-tung, David Galula, and Roger Trinquier's reflections on insurgency and counterinsurgency and their influence on the U.S. Army's Field Manual 3-24; Just-war theory, from Thucydides' Melian Dialogue to Operation Iraqi Freedom; nuclear war, terrorism, and other strategic challenges for the 21st century.
You'll come away from this course with new insight that will allow you to take an informed, active interest in political and military debates - which ultimately will determine the course of our nation.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this course are those of the professor and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
This may seem like a cliché, but what Carl Sagan did for science, Prof. Wilson has done for Strategy. I am a civilian with no military background. I found Prof. Wilson’s lectures interesting, well-structured, and informative. The lectures have a just the right balance of factual dissertation and storytelling to keep the listener engaged. These lectures have left me with a better mental framework for applying strategic thinking to my own decisions, and for understanding the actions of others on the larger world stage.
Prof. Wilson’s attention to the importance of a back-and-forth dialog between civilian and military leaders actually changed my preconceived notions in that area.
Prof. Wilson did such a great job providing a solid overview that was clear and understandable. I have taken courses that touched these strategic thinkers but no one that I have taken has linked them together so well.
Handel's Masters of War was the closest that I could compare to this lesson but I still would say that Prof. Wilson edges out Handel on this one.
I would recommend the first half of the book. As long as the topic is history and war from past centuries, the professor is very insightful. This is also the case when he talks about modern wars that did not involve the U.S. When it comes to wars the U.S. fought, the storyline is overly biased towards official U.S. political and military opinon and does not critically question motives and conduct.
The history of greek wars and up to and including the french revolution is great. The lessons are insightful and highlight well the development of warfare and it strategic and tactical conduct.
As soon as he comes to the role of the U.S., the class gets incredibly weak. His lesson on the Second Iraq war from a perspective of a "Just war" is a definite low point due to any missing criticality and an overly biased view in favor of official U.S. policy. Just a view examples.
1) He talks at length about the justification in light of the "Just War" theory that president Bush gave (several minutes), yet then fails to mention how questionable this all was in practice, especially with respect to the claimed W.M.D. He reiterates Bush's view that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a threat to the U.S., yet makes no effort at all to look into this rather controversial claim.
2) He highlights how well U.S. soldiers treated the Iraqi population, which I believe is certainly true (especially as it has to be viewed in the light of a war situation), yet he fails to mention to torture scandal in Iraq.
3) In the rebuilding phase of Iraq, he says it is easy to criticize it, but does not elaborate further very much, certainly not on specific points that would be negative to the U.S.. Yet at the same time, he highlights that the U.S. did not ask for reparations from Iraq as a positive point (which is at least questionable given the justification of the war as intended to free the Iraqi people from tyranny and that in comparison to the U.S., they are very poor).
Conspicously absent is an in depth treatment of the Vietnam war. Vietnam is certainly treated in a lecture when it comes to the interplay of the political side and the military. But the ultimate reasons for the loss of the Iraq war and the lessons to be learned from it are only mentioned briefly.
Yes, but skip the more modern part.
I enjoy listening to fantasy, some science fictions and have recently found myself enjoying the lecture audiobooks.
While this audiobook certainly didn't go through each and every point of the strategic masters that they mention (with reason, doing so would make this book amazingly long) it managed to do a lot for me in terms of information. Not just information though, information that I could follow and done in such a way that it held my attention.
Professor Wilson brings the masters to the table, a lot of which I haven't really heard much about or had the chance to read and not only goes into their strengths and weaknesses, but also, at times, goes into context for when and what reason those books were written for in the first place as well as giving us a somewhat deeper look into those masters that wrote the books that many a strategic mind study today.
There was a enough information here to help me think in a different manner as well as get interested in picking up and reading / listening to some other books on strategy and history. It also certainly changed some of my views on how things work today in terms of strategy.
I could see myself coming back to this audiobook later in life (maybe as soon as a year or less) and giving it another listen and I'm sure I'd find more to love about this book. If your interested in strategy at all and you want to know more about the masters of strategy as well as some of their strategies, I encourage you to give this book a shot.
No I would not. As the title says it is a great lecture series not a great story so the lecturer moves quite fast through the material with the expectation that the listener is well versed in military history. Not for the casual listener more for a student of the military. If that happens to be you well then this is a thorough course covering many characters and military strategies.
I would buy more classes from the great courses. I own several and while some are hard to follow and keep up with the material I find most to be enlightening and very educational.
Fall of Greek states
No. You need a break to absorb the just taught materials before moving on to a new part of history and new countries and their battles.
Farmer, Nurse, Skeptic, Science enthusiast
I struggled to finish this in all honesty. The lectures are well put together and well delivered, I just found the topic a little dry. I like military history but due to the lectures covering so many topics and people, there really wasn't the depth that was needed to inspire me to keep going.
That said, this was a primer, it would guide you to reading more about the individuals who played roles in war.
Excellent treatise on military strategies however a strong emphasis was given on politics. I also felt very little is discussed on absolute war and some of its consequences such as genocides often employed in ancient wars. This book however is a good representation of acceptable modern war strategy.
Usually by the end of a Great Courses session, you're pretty exhausted with the subject. In this case, however, you're left wanting to dive deeper and deeper, especially in the later topics. What a great intro to the field.
"Educational and interesting"
A good series of lectures, charting the progress of military theory, with real world examples of ideas from long ago. I liked the delivery, which felt relaxed and was easy to listen to. Will want to hear more of the Great Courses, especially Prof. Wilson's Art of War lectures.
"Very rewarding and informative."
I will certainly listen to this one again in the near future. A comprehensive account of the evolution of military thinking and strategy. If you wish to understand the subject more this is an excellent place to start.
"really impressive. LOVED every chapter / lecture."
highly recommended for anyone who lives history, military history, strategy, and learning from the past. brilliantly researched and written. I LOVE this series of lectures.
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