In This Review

The Evolution of Modern Grand Strategic Thought
The Evolution of Modern Grand Strategic Thought
By Lukas Milevski
Oxford University Press, 2016, 160 pp

Far from evolving into a clear concept, grand strategy has never been properly pinned down. In a tight, terse piece of analysis, Milevski laments that grand strategy remains “a standardless, incoherent concept, whose popularity surge after the end of the Cold War multiplied the lack of rigour with which it was employed.” He traces the concept’s history, examining the major thinkers who have shaped it, beginning with the nineteenth-century maritime strategists Alfred Thayer Mahan and Julian Corbett and then moving on to the interwar British school of thought led by J. F. C. Fuller and Basil Liddell Hart. He then shifts to prominent figures in U.S. strategic history—including some familiar names usually associated with nuclear strategy but also shining a welcome light on the often overlooked Edward Mead Earle—before concluding with appraisals of contemporary American theorists such as Edward Luttwak and John Lewis Gaddis. This is an accomplished contribution to the literature on the history of strategic theory, precisely because it illuminates how policy debates and changing geopolitical circumstances have altered the meaning of a concept. This seems to bother Milevski, but I am not sure that it should.