The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire

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Harvard University Press, Nov 30, 2011 - History - 512 pages
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In this book, the distinguished writer Edward Luttwak presents the grand strategy of the eastern Roman empire we know as Byzantine, which lasted more than twice as long as the more familiar western Roman empire, eight hundred years by the shortest definition. This extraordinary endurance is all the more remarkable because the Byzantine empire was favored neither by geography nor by military preponderance. Yet it was the western empire that dissolved during the fifth century. The Byzantine empire so greatly outlasted its western counterpart because its rulers were able to adapt strategically to diminished circumstances, by devising new ways of coping with successive enemies. It relied less on military strength and more on persuasion—to recruit allies, dissuade threatening neighbors, and manipulate potential enemies into attacking one another instead. Even when the Byzantines fought—which they often did with great skill—they were less inclined to destroy their enemies than to contain them, for they were aware that today’s enemies could be tomorrow’s allies. Born in the fifth century when the formidable threat of Attila’s Huns were deflected with a minimum of force, Byzantine strategy continued to be refined over the centuries, incidentally leaving for us several fascinating guidebooks to statecraft and war.

The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire is a broad, interpretive account of Byzantine strategy, intelligence, and diplomacy over the course of eight centuries that will appeal to scholars, classicists, military history buffs, and professional soldiers.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - HadriantheBlind - LibraryThing

A modestly interesting book with some interesting strategic insights and some gaping flaws. It is an easy, flowing read, and makes the analysis of composite bows and court titles seem more ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

While an interesting survey of Byzantine military history, with particular emphasis on the strategic constants that confronted the Eastern Empire, I'm one with the reviewers who are skeptical that ... Read full review


I The Invention of Byzantine Strategy
The Myth and the Methods
III The Byzantine Art of War
Grand Strategy and the Byzantine Operational Code
Was Strategy Feasible in Byzantine Times?
Emperors from Constantine I to Constantine XI
Works Cited
Index of Names
General Index

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About the author (2011)

Edward N. Luttwak is a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies .

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