Publication Date: 07/09/2023 ISBN: 9780141993515 Category:


Sir Lawrence Freedman

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication Date: 07/09/2023 ISBN: 9780141993515 Category:
Paperback / Softback




A timely history of the interplay between politics and military operations, ‘Command is the history of our time’ (Guardian)

Military command has been reconstructed and revolutionized since the Second World War by nuclear warfare, small-scale guerrilla land operations and cyber interference. Freedman takes a global perspective, systematically investigating its practice and politics since 1945 through a wide range of conflicts from the French Colonial Wars, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bangladesh Liberation War to North Vietnam’s Easter Offensive of 1972, the Falklands War, the Iraq War and Russia’s wars in Chechnya and Ukraine. By highlighting the political nature of strategy, Freedman shows that military decision-making cannot be separated from civilian priorities and that commanders must now have the sensibility to navigate politics as well as warfare.

Publisher Review

Lawrence Freedman is the dominant academic authority in Britain and the English-speaking world on the way modern wars have been fought. Rational, liberal-minded, clear-sighted, he has drawn on a lifetime of experience for his new book. ... Command is the history of our time, told through war. It's a wonderful, idiosyncratic feat of storytelling as well as an essential account of how the modern world's wars have been fought, written by someone whose grasp of complex detail is as strong and effective as the clarity of his style. I shall read it again and again. -- John Simpson * The Guardian * superb study of high command and civil-military relations ... It is simply one of the finest books I have read in ages, and full of lessons for contemporary leaders. Highly recommended! -- Mick Ryan wise ... insightful ... masterly ... One suspects that this well-researched, well-written and thought-provoking book will soon be required reading for any Nato officer hoping to exercise high command -- Andrew Roberts * BBC History Magazine * Freedman offers excellent concise summaries of some of the world's main clashes since 1950 ... The author makes an encouraging point when he concludes this useful book: "The advantages of democratic systems lie not in their ability to avoid bad decisions, either by governments or commanders . . . The advantage lies in their ability to recognise these mistakes, learn and adapt. Closed systems, in which subordinates dare not ask awkward questions . . . will suffer operationally." -- Max Hastings * Sunday Times * Lawrence Freedman is one of our most distinguished military historians. In this thoughtful book, drawing on decades of study, he looks at the marriage of authorities that takes place in the running of wars since 1945: where political power meets military expertise, and who ends up having the final say. ... sumptuous ... this should be the standard text in staff colleges around the world, and for military-history studies. -- Simon Heffer * Daily Telegraph * It is incredibly insightful, occasionally moving and profoundly wise. -- Andrew Roberts * Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year * In this broad survey of command in war since 1945, Lawrence Freedman brings to bear his extensive knowledge to explain the many complexities commanders at the highest level must now face, from grasping new ways of warfare to managing military organisation and supply and, above all, coping with the mercurial behaviour of their political masters. If there is a theme to Freedman's book, which ranges from the Korean War to Putin's 'special military operation' in Ukraine, it is to be found in the tensions and conflicts between military leaders and the politicians who call the shots that he documents. How often must a supreme commander have wished he were free to do what he wanted? Usually, politics has to be factored in. ... One of the revelations of Freedman's detailed and well-informed book is how difficult the management of conflict has become ... [an] invaluable panorama of the challenges of modern command -- Richard Overy * Literary Review * Command is arguably his finest book - fluently written and convincingly argued - into which he distils a lifetime of study into the nature and practice of war. -- Saul David * The Times * Sir Lawrence Freedman, Britain's most distinguished scholar of war, surveys 15 different battles and campaigns ... The lesson is that good command looks both ways, sensitive to the politics raging above while remaining in touch with the war being fought below. * Economist * comfortably the book of the year. It is a reminder of the human factor as a central component of the so-called correlations of forces in war. -- John Bew * New Statesman Books of the Year * Freedman's mastery of the subject of civil and military leadership in time of war is peerless ... a fascinating study of the psychological and political characteristics that determine success or failure in leadership in war. -- Tom Clonan * The Irish Times * The most brilliant critique of the Ukraine war has just appeared in Command by veteran strategist Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman. The book is about the tangles of command, politicians playing soldiers and soldiers playing politician in nine wars of this century. -- Robert Fox * Evening Standard * Freedman's brilliant insights help us understand the dynamics of a modern military catastrophe. This is a "how to" book for politicians and generals alike. The Kremlin library deserves an urgent copy. -- Financial Times * George Robertson * admirable ... what really makes this study special is that he reminds us that command is about people, both politicians and military men, with all their fears and flaws, vanities and preconceptions. -- Barney White-Spunner * Aspects of History * this fascinating account of how wars are won - and lost - by overmighty and insubordinate generals in democracies and dictatorships alike. Ukraine, Chechnya, the Falklands, Lebanon and Suez are among the conflicts whose triumphs and disasters are laid bare in extensive detail - just don't expect Putin, Lawrence Freedman warns, to heed the lessons. -- Patrick Maguire * Times Books of the Year * Command, by Lawrence Freedman is a real page-turner, as various conflicts post-1945 are analysed from both a military and political standpoint. A must-read. -- Oliver Webb-Carter * Aspects of History Books of the Year * admirable ... what really makes this study special is that he reminds us that command is about people, both politicians and military men, with all their fears and flaws, vanities and preconceptions ... It is an important book - really first class - and timely. -- Barney White-Spunner * Aspects of History Books of the Year * In this historical and geographical tour de force, Freedman cogently examines the interplay of politics and command-the balance of decision-making by civilian leaders and their military counterparts. His account ranges from the end of World War II to the present, and across Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America assessing the record of a host of important civilian and military officials who were in positions of command during times of war and peace. One of the critical questions Freedman explores is what military officers should do when civilian leaders demand actions that are illegal or contradict core national or professional values-and, conversely, what civilian commanders should do when generals refuse to follow orders. During wartime, it is not just the contest of civil and military authorities that complicate command but also the clashing imperatives of politics, expertise, resources, and individual egos. Freedman's book is a must-read, and even more so today, as it sheds light on the dynamics of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which challenges the very core of the postwar international order. -- Monica Duffy Toft * Foreign Affairs *

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