Book: Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire

Edward Luttwak

Placing Edward Luttwak’s Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century CE to the Third in the category of a classic is bound to generate controversy, as did Luttwak’s book when it was first published in 1976. Some prominent scholars of Rome and the classical period dismissed the book as the product of an index-flipping amateur. They brought up particular inaccuracies and challenged many of its generalizations and interpretations. In the broader public policy arena, in the aftermath of Vietnam and the period of detente with the Soviet Union, those who wanted to pare down America’s global role did not take well to sympathetic studies of imperial strategy, grand or otherwise. On the other hand, for those who took strategy seriously and who fretted over the decline of American power and will, Luttwak’s emphasis on suasion and the economy of force too often seemed to offer a solution set that was too good to be true.

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