A Review of Edward N. Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century A.D. to the Third.
Edward Luttwak’s The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century A.D. to the Third gives a militaristic analysis of the tactics used by the Roman Empire while also highlighting parallels between Rome and contemporary U.S. military policy. Luttwak divides his book into three chapters, a chapter for each of the 3 identified systems; the first chapter discusses Rome’s use of mobile armies and client states to defend her borders. The second chapter shows border defense as was provided by small groups of marching legionary troops. The third and final chapter details the transition from an offense stance to a more
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Anyone interested in Roman hegemony should not pass on reading this book. Littered with maps, charts, and helpful diagrams, Luttwak is clearly passionate about this subject and the book was quite interesting to read. The author touches on many topics and, in a very clear manner, finds ways to illustrate them; however, if the reader is more interested in social history and bored by the intricate details of Roman imperial history then this book could be overlooked without much recourse. I, as well as many other readers of this book, felt that it could have been better. Luttwak’s maps, while nice to have, look to be drawn by hand and are not very professional and leave out much of the relief. His writing does not mention the geographic features or how these features might have (or had not) affected Rome’s military conquests. Luttwak speculates often and sees design everywhere. Because events are not always dictated by human calculation, it is unfair for the author to dismiss irregularities or make them fit the scheme. For example, Luttwak agrees that Rome had serious recruitment problems due to a shortage of manpower and that the cost of maintaining an army was overwhelming; however, all of this is