Winning Wars

The Enduring Nature and Changing Character of Victory from Antiquity to the 21st Century

Using a series of historical case studies, experts explore what actually is winning in a military context.
Date Published :
December 2020
Publisher :
Casemate Academic
Editor :
Matthias Strohn
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781952715006
Pages : 336
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Also available digitally:
Buy From Amazon Amazon
Buy From Apple Apple
Buy From Barnes and Noble Barnes & Noble
Buy From Google Google
Buy From Kobo Kobo

Casemate will earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link here


While ‘winning’ might be considered a fundamental part of the human objective, what constitutes winning and how one might achieve it remain somewhat abstract, in war as in any other human endeavor. ‘Winning’ militarily at the tactical level – in a firefight or a battle – has always been more quantifiable than at the strategic level. At the strategic level, success might be measured by means of three big ideas: ownership; intervention for effect; and fighting for ideas. The divergence between success at the tactical level and the political context of the war creates a challenge at the operational level when it relates to political and strategic matters.

The result of a research project carried out by the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research for the British Army, this book analyses the philosophical constituents of what may comprise ‘victory’ or ‘winning’ and then travels, chronologically, through a wide set of historical case studies, exploring those more philosophical components and weaving them into the factual discussion. Thus the factual relation and analysis is the vehicle for a deeper exploration of the concept of success or ‘winning’, rather than a narrative end in itself.

About The Author

Matthias Strohn, MSt (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon), FRHistS, is Head of Historical Analysis at the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, the British Army’s strategic think tank, Visiting Professor of Military Studies at the University of Buckingham, and a member of the academic faculty at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Matthias was educated at the universities of Münster (Germany) and Oxford. He holds a commission in the German Army and is a member of the military attaché reserve, having served on the defense attaché staffs in London, Paris and Madrid. Prior to this, he served as Military History Instructor at the German Staff College in Hamburg. He deployed to Iraq (with the British Army) and Afghanistan (with both the British Army and the German Bundeswehr). Matthias has published widely on 20th-century German and European military history; he has authored and edited 14 books and numerous articles.


Introduction – Sir Hew Strachan

1 ‘Winning’ in Classical Antiquity and the Roman Conception of Victory – Ali Parchami
2 The European Concept of ‘Winning’ in the Middle Ages – John France
3 The Early Modern Period in Europe, 1500–1715 – David Parrott
4 From the Age of Reason to the European Nation State, 1750–1850 – Jonathan Riley
5 ‘Winning’ in World War I, 1914–1919 – Lothar Höbelt
6 ‘Winning’ in the World Wars. The British Conceptions of the War-Time Leaders Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, 1914–1945 – Rob Johnson
7 ‘Winning’ in the Cold War and the Nuclear Age, 1945–1990 – Jonathan Riley
8 Western Strategic Goals and ‘Winning’ in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 – Daniel Marston and Carter Malkasian
9 A Hollow Victory? Assad’s Regime and ‘Winning’ the Conflict in Syria since 2001 – Richard Kuno
10 The Impact of History, Politics and Religion: Three Contrasting Conceptions of ‘Winning’ in Iran since 1979 – Ali Parchami
11 The Chinese Concept of ‘Winning’ – Kerry Brown
12 A Decisive British Victory? The Confrontation with Indonesia, 1963–1966 – Christopher Tuck
13 The Ambiguity of Victory: The Spectrum of ‘Winning’ in African History – Richard Reid
14 The Provisional IRA and the Elusive Concept of ‘Winning’ since 1969 – Aaron Edwards
15 Russian Views of ‘Winning’: ‘Velikaya Pobeda’ ‘pobedonosnaya voina’ – Andrew Monaghan
16 ‘Winning the Peace’: The Peacebuilding Paradigm and its Implications for Peacekeepers in the 21st Century – Nicholas Rees

Conclusion: So, What is ‘Winning’? Andrew Sharpe


"Due to the multitude of contributors, the book provides a unique insight into a wide variety of subjects without feeling overly condensed or rushed. It can provide useful insights to anyone; students and subject matter experts alike can find something to gain from this book. Most importantly, its emphasis on contemporary warfare can provide consequential information for our current military and civilian leadership, if they are willing to hear it."

- Air & Space Power Journal

"Although much of the book’s focus is about winning in conventional wars, the insights about the components in measuring effectiveness in such warfare also apply to assessing effectiveness in counterterrorism."

- Perspectives on Terrorism

"18 chapters take the reader on a tour through history, from Rome to the modern European states system to contemporary Chinese and Russian ideas on the subject. Given the outstanding question of what 'winning' means in Ukraine for Russia today, the volume’s subject is of great interest to a wide audience."

- Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs

"...contributes a wide range of interesting material to ongoing debates about the future of war, the place of hybrid or grey operations as well as reminding us about the role of narratives, myth, and belief in shaping our understandings of what constitutes a win."

- The Strategy Bridge

"…a salutary reminder that it is all too possible to win the war but lose the peace."

- Miniature Wargames

"Comprising sixteen excellent and thought-provoking essays by eighteen noted military historians and former warriors, the book comprehensively examines the realities of war and the wide-ranging concepts of victory. At the same time, it offers a very good general history of warfare."

- Baird Maritime

"…extremely readable and jargon-free. […] very instructive collection."

- RUSI Journal

" extremely rich book, containing a multitude of insights."

- Militaire Spectator

More from this publisher