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Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  92 ratings  ·  12 reviews
In Military StrategyRear Admiral J.C. Wylie invented the intellectual framework and terminology with which to understand strategy as a means of control. He synthesized the four existing specific theories of strategy into one general theory that is as valid today as when it was first created. Wylie has written a penetrating new postscript especially for this Classics of Sea ...more
Hardcover, 388 pages
Published November 17th 1989 by US Naval Institute Press
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Ian Fleischmann
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: military-thought
Interesting quick read. He talks about initiative indirectly in pages 88-94 including using Grant as an example. Wylie is specifically talking about control through the imposition of a "pattern of war" in which one has the advantage. If the conservator (attackee) is able to neutralize the initial control of the attacker, they enter a state of fluid equilibrium in which all other advantages of either side are cumulatively negligible until one side or the other resumes or alters the "pattern of wa ...more
Nate Huston
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
A welcome respite from many of the traditional "legends" of military theory. That said, the reader pays for the simplicity in the depth of the theory.

Wylie posits that four broad strategic theories exist: continental (ground), naval/maritime, air and Mao (revolutionary). He says each is lacking due to the fact that they only apply in their narrow field. He sought to identify a more general theory of strategy that would apply across the gamut of warfare.

His ultimate conclusion was that military
Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Admiral Wylie writes about his theory of control...I think it is a little dated as his is clearly influenced by the events ongoing at the time of publication (1967), specifically Vietnam, and the ongoing cold-war. He does do a good job of breaking out control to maritime, air, land and the people (Mao type control)
It is a short read, about 110 pages. I recommend it for anyone interested in military strategy.
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It breaks my heart that so many people we're not in the correct positions of power to be able to make a dent in our national policy during the Vietnam war. While his theory is not solely applicable to that conflict it certainly had relevance then. He Illustrated step-by-step and point-by-point the mindset of the military and how the theories that they were Waging War were not the same as those they faced in the jungles in Vietnam to no avail. How time and again in history if you find that your a ...more
Robert James
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are many points in this book, but the main one is: there is a lack of intellectual tenacity/dedication when it comes to strategy. Throughout the work, the author asserts several ways to combat this issue and even presents some of his own solutions.

Wylie provides perspectives that may be useful to the professional military person, such as that of the solider and the continental theory. As a sailor, it was helpful to hear these views (albeit from someone in the Navy). I only wish the author
Really straightforward and simple idea for strategic thinking: the application of control (which, in Wylie's terminology, can mean both literal "control" but also influence, "dominance," etc.). A great synthesis of ends and means; solid read for anyone interested in formulating strategy of their own. ...more
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Wildly overrated, in my opinion. Most often cited "insight" is the duality between cumulative and sequential strategies, which isn't really a terribly novel way to look at the issue (ask Delbruck). Pithy in places and fair-minded, Wiley ultimately fails to accomplish the impossible task he sets himself: to come up with a "general theory of warfare" or strategy, a sort of positive doctrine for success in war. A fair survey, though. ...more
Feb 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Short but very perceptive look at overall strategy in regards to war. If only for his portrayal of the limited strategies of the different services this book would be worth a read. Also very perceptive about what was to come in terms of threats.
Jon Klug
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: strategy
Awesome short book that, while perhaps a bit dated in some areas, serves as a great strategic primer.
Oct 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Basic, but with some good insights here and there.
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for military planners.
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Rear Admiral Joseph Caldwell Wylie, Jr., USN, (March 3, 1911 – January 1, 1993) (called "J. C." Wylie or "Bill" Wylie), was an American strategic theorist, author, and US Naval officer. Wylie is best known for writing Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control. ...more

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