How to Win a War

Perspectives on Transforming Victory into Winning Through History

Using a series of historical case studies, experts explore what actually is winning in a military context.
Date Published :
January 2021
Publisher :
Editor :
Matthias Strohn
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What does it mean to win a war? How does this differ from a simple military victory? How have different cultures and societies answered these questions through history, and how can we apply these lessons?

When considering how a war might be 'won', there are three big ideas that underpin how success can be measured: ownership, intervention for effect, and fighting for ideas. These three main themes also contain a series of sub-themes: internal and external, short-term and long-term, military success versus political success, and tactical outcomes versus campaign effects versus strategic success.

This book examines the constituent parts of what may comprise ‘victory’ or ‘winning’ in war and then travels, chronologically, through a wide variety of historical case studies, further exploring these philosophical components and weaving them into a factual discussion. The authors of each chapter will explore the three big ideas within the context of their individual case studies, offering pointers as to where, within that framework, their case study may sit.

The message of this book is not just an academic exploration for its own sake, but a really vital aspect (both morally and practically) of the political and military business of the application of force. In short, know in advance how you wish to end before you start.

About The Author

Matthias Strohn is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham, and a senior lecturer in the Department of War Studies, RMAS. Previously he lectured at Oxford and the Joint Forces Command and Staff College, Shrivenham. He specializes in the history of the German army in the 20th century, with emphasis on command and leadership, and the development and application of doctrine, and has published widely. He holds a commission in the German army and is a member of the military attaché reserve. He has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with both the British army and the German Bundeswehr.


The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
From the Age of Reason to the Nation State
World War I
UK policy in World War I and World War II
Black Africa
Syria and the Near East
The Cold War and the Nuclear Age
The 21st Century
Non-state actors
“Winning the peace”
Religion and winning

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