The Blind Strategist
John Boyd and the American Art of War
By Stephen Robinson
Published by Exisle Publishing
RRP $49.99 in hardback * ISBN 9781925820348
Author Stephen Robinson, a graduate of the Australian Command and Staff Course, has, with this latest book, made a bold assault on the foundations of nearly fifty years of military thinking developed by maverick US fighter pilot Colonel John Boyd, who died in 1997, but whose influence in military doctrine lives on.
Boyd’s theories of manoeuvre warfare were accepted widely among Western allies yet Robinson offers up convincing evidence that the accounts from defeated German officers on which he relied were ‘dishonest fabrications’ later exposed as such by professional historians.
Yet, as Robinson writes, as recently as the First Gulf War, there were boasts of the success of manoeuvre warfare yet he writes that ‘theorists mostly knew this was not true’.
In fact, he claims that while the American military continue to perceive itself as a manoeuvre warfare force, it does not in reality practice it.
And the ideas Boyd developed have not been universally accepted.
This book has been widely commended and described, variously, as ‘fascinating’, with ‘much to be learned from reading it’ and a ‘must read for all serious students of modern warfare’.
Without doubt, I believe this timely book will, if nothing else, encourage vigorous debate, especially with Robinson urging the ‘true believers’ to reconsider their views or else, ‘defend the existence of misinformation and fraud in military thinking – an indefensible position.’
VERDICT: It’s definitely a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in military history and tactics.