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#WavellReviews “How to fight a War” by Mike Martin

Available here from Hurst & Co publishers

This first-rate book provides a clear and succinct introduction to military science.

It outlines strategy, intelligence, logistics, morale, and training before addressing their application.  It helps the reader to gain historical perspective and promotes depth of understanding and intellectual rigour.  The book ends with fascinating speculation about the way in which Artificial Intelligence based decision making could change everything.

What is excellent about this book, for beginners, is that it provides a structured and basic template, from which wider learning can be contextualised.  For example, reference is made to strategy surrounding the Normandy Landings in 1944 – including the role of Churchill and Gen Alan Brooke.  This can then neatly add context and understanding to an interview many years later with the then Lord Alanbrooke.  From time point 16:32 onwards:

YouTube: The Alanbrooke Diaries

Coverage of the importance of engineering and logistic support is both comprehensive and eye-opening, and useful diagrams are provided.

There does seem to be a heavy emphasis on details of manoeuvre in the land domain, but not at the expense of the wider picture.

The style of writing is first-rate: structured, distilled, insightful and with hints of wry humour sparingly applied – no desultory verbiage here.

For those new to this subject, it is a great introduction, but I also suspect that its clarity and depth may prove refreshing to the more experienced.

An illuminating book: clear, thoughtful, succinct – I thoroughly recommend it.


Dr Stephen Carey
Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr Stephen Carey is a Civilian Consultant Psychiatrist with the MOD. Views expressed are personal.


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