Maxims and essays that encapsulate timeless insights on strategy


Fighting Talk

Forty Maxims on War, Peace, and Strategy

208 pages; 6" x 9"

$19.95   $15.96
Available: August 2009
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Colin Gray presents an inventive treatise on the nature of strategy, war, and peace, organized around forty maxims. This collection of mini essays will forearm politicians, soldiers, and the attentive general public against many—probably most— fallacies that abound in contemporary debates about war, peace, and security. While one can never guarantee strategic success, which depends on policy, military prowess, and the quality of the dialogue between the two, a strategic education led by the judgments in these maxims increases the chances that one’s errors will be small rather than catastrophic.

The maxims are grouped according to five clusters. “War and Peace” tackles the larger issues of strategic history that drive the demand for the services of strategic thought and practice. “Strategy” presses further, into the realm of strategic behavior, and serves as a bridge between the political focus of part one and the military concerns that follow. “Military Power and Warfare” turns to the pragmatic business of military performance: operations, tactics, and logistics. Part four, “Security and Insecurity,” examines why strategy is important, including a discussion of the nature, dynamic character, and functioning of world politics. Finally, “History and the Future” is meant to help strategists better understand the processes of historical change.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)

Colin S. Gray is a professor of international politics and strategic studies and the director of the Centre for Strategic Studies, University of Reading, England. He is the author of twenty-three books, including National Security Dilemmas: Challenges and Opportunities (Potomac Books, Inc., 2008) , and several dozen government reports. He lives in Wokingham, United Kingdom.


"[Gray] has sustained and enhanced a reputation as the English-speaking world's leading strategic thinker. Gray's work has always eschewed abstraction for empiricism. His theoretical studies never fall prey to wishful thinking or mirror-imaging. His strategic analyses incorporate strong historical elements. Fighting Talk, though unpretentious in structure, represents the distillation of a career's worth of study and reflection in these contexts."
The Journal of Military History

"Attributing his inspiration for this work to the seminal military thinker Carl von Clausewitz, Gray has come up with forty maxims of military strategy that he believes cover most of the intellectually essential elements for the education of a strategist and presents them accompanied by short explanatory essays. They are grouped into sections on war and peace, strategy, military power and warfare, security and insecurity, and history and the future."
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