War, Strategy and International Politics: Essays in Honor of Sir Michael Howard

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War, Strategy and International Politics: Essays in Honor of Sir Michael Howard

Edited by Lawrence D. Freedman, Paul Hayes and Robert O'Neil
Clarendon Press, 1992
322 pp. $69.00
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Sir Michael Howard is the preeminent military historian in the English-language world today. His magisterial works on (among other things) the Franco-Prussian War, British strategic history, and the Second World War, his lapidary essays on military theory and problems of contemporary security, and his co-translated and edited edition of Clausewitz's On War have earned him that reputation. This festschrift, unfortunately, does not quite do him justice. As the editors admit, the essays have no unifying themes, and those readers enthralled by "An English Country House at War: Littelcote and the Pophams" are unlikely to be taken with "Alanbrooke and Britain's Mediterranean Strategy, 1942-1944." The authors, a distinguished group, deal either with recondite matters of interest chiefly to specialists or with broad topics that require the authority and skill of, well, Sir Michael to come off well. The contemporary essays suffer further from what must have been a considerable gap between writing and publication: the Soviet Union still lives in these pages.

Among the writers Britons crowd out all but one foreigner (an Australian)-a pity, because many of Howard's colleagues and students hail from continental Europe, the United States and elsewhere, and because he is so very much an international figure. Nor does the reader encounter the themes suggested by Howard's professional labors, such as the role of official history or the relationship between theory and history in the study of military affairs. Ironically, perhaps, the volume's deficiencies set in relief the qualities that make Sir Michael so extraordinary a scholar.

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