Book review: How to Make War

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A good book almost writes its own review – and this is certainly the case with James F Dunnigan’s How to Make War.
 
 Dunnigan seemingly wrote How to Make War for the wargaming enthusiast and the armchair general. It therefore tackles matters military, aviation and naval in clear but humorous English. Not even a second lieutenant at Army Intelligence should get confused when consulting this detailed reference work.
Sticking to detail, the 660-page tome is liberally sprinkled with charts and explanations conveying a mass of easy-to-read information to the reader in eight parts and 29 chapters.
To the author`s considerable credit, this is not a work one has to read from cover-to-cover to make sense of. Flip through it at your leisure. Start anywhere. It is still a fantastic read.
The reviewer, who was introduced to the title by his Infantry School company commander (retired Lt Col George Barrie), has spent hours being amused and educated by just opening the book randomly and reading from where his eye fall. It`s fun!
Parts One, Two and Three deal with ground combat, air operations and naval operations respectively. Part Four addresses human factors such as why soldiers fight, leadership, and Murphy`s laws of combat. Part Five addresses “special weapons” such as electronic warfare and weapons of mass destruction. Part Six addresses the vexing question of logistics as well as why “victory goes to the bigger battalions. Part Seven is about air and sea transport, “moving the goods,” while the Part 8 rates and ranks the world`s armed forces, including our (then still pre-1994) own.             
Here follows some vintage quotes:
“Armed forces exist primarily, or at least initially, for self-defence. Some nations go overboard, and some feel the best way to defend against a real or imagined attack is to attack it.”
“Doctrine is the plan, reality is the performance. Most nations` military planning rests on their own appraisals of their own military ability. This appraisal reaches a low point just before arms budgets are voted on and rises swiftly during international crises and reelection campaigns. When actual warfare approaches, the military becomes more realistic.”
“There are two ways to fight a war: plain (attrition) and fancy (maneuver). The stronger military power has the option of which method to use… Maneuver warfare is very risky, a gambler`s game. Attrition is slower, plodding and more predictable. Just the sort of thing your average bureaucrat leans toward.”
“Much of what we currently call war is merely well-armed disorder… This is an important distinction, as a great deal of military skill is not needed to create armed disorder. You don`t need trained troops to create a proper insurrection or civil war. All you need are angry people and some weapons.” 
Want to see more? Buy the book! How to Make War is a must have for everyone that`s ever had even the remotest interest in military matters.  
  
James F Dunnigan
How to Make War, 4th Edition – A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Warfare for the 21st Century
William Morrow and Company, Inc.
New York,
2003.