From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON
Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, edited by Peter Paret, appeared as a 941-page volume comprising twenty-eight essays, with topics ranging from the sixteenth century to the 1980s. The work was published by Princeton University Press in 1986, as the cold war was drawing to a close. Paret's massive anthology itself updated and expanded upon the classic inaugural Princeton volume of twenty essays, Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler, edited by Edward M. Earle. The smaller, earlier book had appeared more than forty years before the second, in 1943, in the midst of the Second World War. It focused on individual military theorists and generals; hence the personalized title, “Makers.”
Although the theme of both books remained the relevance of the past to military challenges of the present, the 1986 sequel dealt more with American concerns. Its chapters were built not so much around individuals as on larger strategic themes and historical periods. Although both the editors and the authors of these two books by intent did not always explicitly connect their contributions to the ordeals of their times, the Second World War and the cold war are unavoidable presences in the background. Both books cautioned against assuming that the radical changes in war making of their respective ages were signs that the nature of conflict had also changed.
On the contrary, the two works served as reminders that the history of both the immediate and more distant past deals with the same concerns