In This Review

Strategy Strikes Back: How “Star Wars” Explains Modern Military Conflict
Strategy Strikes Back: How “Star Wars” Explains Modern Military Conflict
Edited by Max Brooks, John Amble, ML Cavanaugh, and Jaym Gates
Potomac Books, 2018, 272 pp

Academics have long mined science fiction for insights into leadership, strategy, and conflict. This illuminating, if uneven, collection of essays is united by the idea that the Star Wars movies are particularly valuable in this regard. In part, that is due to the quality of the storytelling. But Star Wars has another virtue: popularity. Students, even those in military academies, often struggle with dry texts on strategy and have gaps in their knowledge of contemporary conflicts, but they know all about the struggles between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance. As the contributors show, teachers can use examples from the Star Wars movies to demonstrate the importance of paying attention to vulnerable societies (the lack of development on Endor), the limitations of modern military training (Jedi training, which separates soldiers from the people they serve and is far too geared toward individual combat), the dangers of an overreliance on technology (the empire’s dependence on the Death Star), and common errors of grand strategy (Yoda’s overconfidence in the Jedis’ ability to protect the republic). These failings also highlight a key difference between the movies and real-life situations: without them, the plots would have been left with less suspense and fewer thrills.