Monday, June 6, 2016

Customer Review of Margin of Victory on Amazon





Top Customer Reviews




Eric M Walters on June 2, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition 

An engaging and compelling tour de force, Douglas Macgregor's MARGIN OF VICTORY: FIVE BATTLES THAT CHANGED THE FACE OF MODERN WAR knits together narratives of lesser- known 20th Century battles to generate observations relevant to America's 21st Century strategic defense challenges. Macgregor puts his main emphasis on the national military analyses, decisions, and preparations of the eventual victor, made well before these battles were fought. His accounts of combat actions effectively illustrate how critical these were to create conditions leading to success in the field. Whether the margins of victory were narrow (such as the British Expeditionary Force—despite retreating from Mons and Le Cateau--throwing grit in the Schlieffen Plan’s gears in France, 1914), or wide (illustrated by the Soviets crushing an entire German army group in a matter of weeks in 1944), institutional foresight and preparation was key.

There are other books that examine this but typically examine failure to learn the right lessons after a war. Still other works focus narrowly on technical innovations in weaponry, organization, and/or tactical concepts resulting from lessons learned.

What is different about MARGIN OF VICTORY is its focus on how some institutions did not extrapolate contemporary trends to characterize future national security environments, but came up with new kinds of forecasts breaking with conventional wisdom. Indeed, these militaries were able to envision far more accurately what types of conflicts they would be fighting in the future, rather than merely mirror the kinds of wars they had fought in the recent past. Macgregor’s case studies are intended as exceptions to the well-worn notion that nations always prepare for the next war or campaign as if they were fighting the last one.

While military history buffs will appreciate the author's perspective as an accomplished combat leader in describing these battles in the first five chapters, this book is meant to inform senior defense policymakers, military officers, and defense reform advocates who are seriously concerned about American national military strategy. Macgregor enjoys a well-established track record for creative thinking, conditioned by a soldier’s sense; he does not disappoint in his concluding chapter, spelling out what needs to be done to prepare the United States for the next war.

This is a timely book as the U.S. Defense Department grapples with the dilemma of configuring the military to fight wars of choice against much less capable adversaries (Iraq and Afghanistan), or prioritizing development to win against near-peer competitors if (or when) war is forced upon the United States.

Macgregor has fired a heavy salvo in the ongoing debate on the future size, shape, organization, and characteristics of the U.S. military. Those with an interest in how history should or should not influence national strategy formulation or who are simply curious about alternative views on defense reform will find MARGIN OF VICTORY a provocative and satisfying read.


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