Masters of War: History's Greatest Strategic Thinkers

Course No. 9422
Professor Andrew R. Wilson, Ph.D.
U.S. Naval War College
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Course No. 9422
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Take a look at what makes Thucydides history's first great strategist.
  • numbers Explore the historical context for Sun Tzu's The Art of War and see how it's been used through the centuries.
  • numbers Study the revolution of naval warfare between Napoleon's era and the advent of World War I.
  • numbers Tackle the challenge of nuclear strategy - where preventing a war depends on having the weapons to fight in one.

Course Overview

What can Thucydides teach us about the war in Iraq in 2003? What is the key to adaptation during an ongoing conflict? How do you balance the tension between political and military objectives? Why are insurgency and terrorism such powerful military tactics, and how do you combat them?

As these questions show, military strategy matters. Civilizations with the greatest strategists—often coupled with the greatest resources—have had a powerful edge over competing civilizations. From Napoleon’s revolutionary campaigns to the way insurgency, terrorism, and nuclear weaponry have defined the nature of warfare in the 21st century, the results of military strategy have changed the course of history.

Masters of War: History’s Greatest Strategic Thinkers gives you an inside look at both the content and historical context of the world’s greatest war strategists. Taught by Professor Andrew R. Wilson, who serves on the faculty of the elite U.S. Naval War College, these 24 lectures will change the way you read newspaper headlines by instilling in you a new appreciation for the subtleties and complexities of strategy—and how nations and military leaders have adapted to the dynamic realm of fog, friction, and chance.

  • See how George Washington adapted his strategy after losing New York during the American Revolution.
  • Learn why FDR went against the advice of Chief of Staff George Marshall and embarked on a campaign in north Africa in the summer of 1942.
  • Trace the United States’ Pacific strategy, from War Plan Dog to Guadalcanal to the island-hopping campaign.
  • Apply Clausewitz’s “culminating point of victory” to the Persian Gulf War.
  • Consider the strategy behind recent U. N. airstrikes in Libya.

The great masters of war have been writing about strategy for thousands of years, and understanding their works can help a nation achieve military and political success. You’ll come away from this course with new insight that will allow you to take an informed, active interest in political and military debates—which ultimately will determine the course of our nation.

Explore Strategy from Ancient Greece to the 21st Century

Warfare has changed, yet the classics of strategic thought endure. From the triremes and hoplites of ancient Greece to the Special Forces in 21st-century Afghanistan, strategy is the process by which political objectives are translated into military action—using the means at a nation’s disposal to compel an enemy to bend to its political will.

The best way to hone your strategic analysis is to study the classics of strategic theory and to test these theories across a range of historical and contemporary cases. Masters of War offers a concise and rigorous survey of history’s greatest students of war, placing each theorist within his unique historical and strategic context:

  • Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian War
  • Sun Tzu’s famous The Art of War
  • Machiavelli’s strategy for a republic with a citizen-army
  • Jomini, Clausewitz, and the Napoleonic revolution in warfare
  • The development of naval strategy and the rise of airpower
  • Mao Tse-tung, David Galula, and Roger Trinquier’s reflections on insurgency and counterinsurgency—and their influence on the U. S. Army’s Field Manual 3-24
  • Just-war theory, from Thucydides’ Melian Dialogue to Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Nuclear war, terrorism, and other strategic challenges for the 21st century

Throughout Masters of War: History’s Greatest Strategic Thinkers, you’ll explore the social and moral dimensions of war and statesmanship; you’ll probe unresolved questions about limited nuclear war, the possibility of a just war, and the efficacy of our counterterrorist tactics; and you’ll come away with the confidence to participate in strategic debates—not only about present conflicts, but those in the future.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Why Strategy Matters
    If war is a gamble, then strategy—the process by which political purpose is translated into military action—is key to success. This course opens with a survey of why strategy is important, and it looks at World War II’s “Operation Torch” as a case study for how the military should be used as an instrument of policy. x
  • 2
    Thucydides on Strategy
    Take a systematic look at what makes Thucydides perhaps history’s first great strategist. In his analysis of the Peloponnesian War, he examines the political origins of the war, the Spartan and Athenian leadership, and the social and moral implications of war—all in an effort to prevent future generations from repeating Athens’ mistakes. x
  • 3
    Thucydides as a Possession for All Time
    Join the lively debate over the efficacy of the Sicilian Expedition—was it good for the Athenians to engage in a preventive war far from home? Then turn to the Melian Dialogue and the debate between realists and neoconservatives over the conduct of war, and consider how this debate still plays out in contemporary America. x
  • 4
    Sun Tzu’s The Art of War
    War. Business school. Professional sports. Sun Tzu’s writing is wildly popular in today’s world. This lecture lays out the historical context for “Master Sun’s Military Methods” and provides an overview of Sun Tzu’s strategy for war: (1) Be efficient, (2) avoid protracted wars, and (3) value the commander’s intellect and skill. x
  • 5
    Sun Tzu through Time
    After charting Sun Tzu’s historical importance throughout Chinese history, in feudal and modern Japan, and in the modern West, Dr. Wilson demonstrates Sun Tzu’s strategy of deception in action by taking you inside Operation Fortitude, a critical component of the Allied invasion of Normandy. x
  • 6
    Machiavelli’s The Art of War
    Learn about Machiavelli, the Italian Renaissance man who, in addition to his famous political treatise, The Prince, wrote his own The Art of War, in which he advocated a citizen-army modeled on that of the Roman Republic. This lecture takes you through Machiavelli’s book of tactics, his recommendation for Florentine military rulers. x
  • 7
    Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy
    If Machiavelli’s The Art of War is a book of tactics, his Discourses on Livy is a book of strategy. Discover Machiavelli’s philosophy of circumstances, fortuna, and his recipe for military action, virtu. See what strategies he thinks a republican military should adopt—and what qualities to look for in a good commander. x
  • 8
    The Napoleonic Revolution in War
    Experience the battles of Jena and Auerstedt during the Napoleonic Wars. These two decisive victories fought on the same day against the Prussians demonstrate the radical transformation of warfare and gave rise to two important masters of war: Antoine-Henri Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz. x
  • 9
    Baron Jomini as a Strategist
    Delve into the life of Baron Antoine Henri Jomini, whose widely read strategic works defined Napoleonic warfare—using a concentrated force to win decisive victories—and whose tactics and operations are still used in today’s modern military. You’ll also weigh the validity of key criticisms of Jominian strategy. x
  • 10
    Clausewitz’s On War
    This lecture introduces you to Carl von Clausewitz, who might be the most influential modern master of war. His key ideas—the paradoxical trinity, assessing the international context, striking the enemy’s center of gravity, and the principle of continuity—make Clausewitz the “master’s master” and provide the basis for modern military strategy. x
  • 11
    Jomini and Clausewitz through the Ages
    Compare two modern masters: Jomini, whose ideas are best suited for the tactics and operations level, and Clausewitz, whose philosophy explains why you can win all the battles and still lose the war. Then dive into the question of how much and what kind of political oversight is needed in war. x
  • 12
    From Sail to Steam—The Sea-Power Revolution
    Study the revolution of naval warfare that took place between Napoleon’s era and the beginning of World War I. The Industrial Revolution, the growth of global markets, the demand for raw materials, and the transition from sail to steam transformed navies and set the stage for 20th-century warfare. x
  • 13
    Alfred Thayer Mahan
    Meet the first of this course’s naval masters of war. Impressed by the audacity of Lord Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar, Mahan’s grand naval strategy was that a concentrated fleet and a global network of naval bases were the keys to naval dominance, which, in turn, would lead to economic prosperity. x
  • 14
    Sir Julian Corbett
    Building on lessons from Clausewitz and Mahan, Sir Julian Corbett offered a complete strategy that integrated land and sea operations. You’ll study his text, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy, and see how his principles played out in Wellington’s Iberian campaign and in the Russo-Japanese War. x
  • 15
    Mahan, Corbett, and the Pacific War
    Why did the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor? Discover Japan’s reasoning and why it failed, and you’ll see how the United States applied Mahan’s and Corbett’s strategies to defeat Japan, from Plan Dog to Midway to Guadalcanal to the end game in 1945. x
  • 16
    Air Power in Theory and Practice
    The 20th century saw the rise of air power and the creation of independent air forces in Britain, the United States, and elsewhere. Here you’ll explore the history of air strategy, from General Giulio Douhet’s theory of air power as the ultimate strategic weapon to the American “bomber mafia,” and you’ll see how these theories held up in action during World War II. x
  • 17
    From Rolling Thunder to Instant Thunder
    During the Vietnam War, the failure of coercive persuasion in Operation Rolling Thunder raised questions about air power theory, but the development of improved targeting, better technology, and stealth aircraft allowed for successful air strikes during the Gulf War’s Operation Instant Thunder. You’ll also examine the strategic impact of bombing campaigns in Yugoslavia and most recently in Libya. x
  • 18
    Nuclear Strategy
    Tackle the challenge of nuclear strategy where, paradoxically, preventing war depends on having massive capabilities for fighting a war. Professor Wilson explains the nuances of deterrence, retaliation, mutual assured destruction, arms limitation, and more. You’ll meet three nuclear strategists who have influenced nuclear policy in the nuclear era. x
  • 19
    Mao Tse-tung in Theory and Practice
    Turn now to China and Mao’s three phases of revolutionary war. The key to an insurgent uprising is to buy time with a strategic defense, to build legitimacy and cultivate friends abroad during a strategic stalemate, and to take over in a strategic counteroffensive. You’ll see this theory in action as Mao’s revolutionaries rose up against Chiang Kai-shek. x
  • 20
    Classics of Counterinsurgency
    How do you fight a revolutionary uprising? The French theorists David Galula and Roger Trinquier offered strategic theories based on the anti-French insurgency in Algeria. This lecture shows how these theories from the 1960s apply in 21st-century Iraq and Afghanistan. x
  • 21
    Just-War Theory
    Is war ever morally justified? Consider the three categories of just-war doctrine—jus ad bellum (the just recourse to war), jus in bello (the just conduct of war), and just post bellum (the just conclusion to war)—and apply them to Operation Iraqi Freedom. x
  • 22
    Terrorism as Strategy
    As frightening as it is, terrorism may be the most strategic form of war. In the post–9/11 era, scholars have devised ways to objectively discuss terrorism as a strategy. Here, Professor Wilson explains the five audiences of terrorist action and presents Michael Collins and the war for Irish independence as a case study. x
  • 23
    Strategies of Counterterrorism
    Reflect on the challenges of a counterterrorism strategy and the spectrum of responses, from simply ignoring terrorists to taking full-blown military action against them. x
  • 24
    From the Jaws of Defeat—Strategic Adaptation
    Conclude with a look at how General Washington adapted his strategy after the Battle of New York. Take one last look at the relationship between civilians and the military and how that nexus can create the optimal strategy. x

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  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 208-page printed course guidebook
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  • 208-page printed course guidebook
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Your professor

Andrew R. Wilson

About Your Professor

Andrew R. Wilson, Ph.D.
U.S. Naval War College
Dr. Andrew R. Wilson is Professor of Strategy and Policy at the United States Naval War College in Newport, RI. He received a B.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University. An award-winning professor and an expert in both military history and strategic theory, Professor Wilson has lectured on Asian military history,...
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Masters of War: History's Greatest Strategic Thinkers is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 98.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent course on strategic thinking! This was a most interesting and engaging course! It's relevance to the world we live in today cannot be over stated. Professor Wilson does an excellent job of relating past strategic thinkers to today's world and is not hesitant to share his own views for us to ponder. All in all, an excellent and very timely course worth viewing more than once!!!!!
Date published: 2018-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Course on Military Strategy I Have Taken I am a retired Army colonel with 30 years of service and a continuing student of military strategy. During my career and since retirement I have taken many courses on military strategy along with my own independent studies. This course is the very best course that I have taken. I recommend it military and civilian audiences alike. Professor Wilson is knowledgeable, engaging, and an excellent speaker. The course was pure joy from start to finish.
Date published: 2018-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Why study Strategy? It seems obvious that things military are not to everyone's taste. So, how can a course on the history of strategic theory and strategic thinkers be of general interest? Why should a civilian spend time studying strategic thinking when other, more humane and cultured subjects are available from the Great Courses? This course, I believe, will convince you of the vital importance of knowing something about the principles of strategy (“the process by which political purpose is translated into military action”) and the thinkers who have been important in the development of strategic theory. Prof. Wilson is a superb lecturer who has put together a very fine course on this highly important subject. To me (a civilian), his most important points are 1) the importance of a robust and continuous civilian-military dialog on strategy and 2) the need for critical thinking about strategy. Prof. Wilson’s own words best summarize why this course is worth taking: “As citizens, understanding classic strategic thought gives us the confidence to become informed and insightful participants in future debates over policy and strategy. The ultimate benefit of studying strategic theory lies not in providing pat answers to the questions pondered by politicians, soldiers, and citizens but, rather, in equipping us all with habits of critical thought that allow us to turn a clear eye on the infinite complexity of our current and future struggles”. I heartily agree.

Date published: 2018-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Masters of War This is a superb introduction to the subject, delving into dimensions one might not typically expect yet shed much light on modern issues such as dealing with urban terrorism in addition to the expected. I've gone through the course twice now and expect to do so again.
Date published: 2018-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificent Confusion! I'm fond of quoting a statement of Michael Crichton, "I'm certain there is too much certainty in the world." If you are as fascinated as I am by the topic of decision making under conditions of uncertainty, this is the course for you. You will learn the perspective of the great thinkers of war, and when their ideas succeeded and when they failed. You will also learn that the fog of war robs us of certainty about how our decisions will play out in the real world. If you want to rid yourself of your unjustified certainties, watch this course. It is a path to better thinking. Further, if you find yourself in a discussion on these or related matters, you'll be able to pull the foolishly certain into the deep water. It is said of Socrates that he was the wisest of men because he knew that he knew nothing. This course a step along his path.
Date published: 2018-01-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Rigorous but rewarding course I have over 70 Great Courses; this is one of the best. Dr. Wilson is a polished speaker; the course topics are well structured. The course is rigorous and challenging but well presented. His discussions of classical and recent strategic theorists were equally enlightening. It would be nice if Great Courses could video one or two case analyses at the Naval War College to see the application of course material to current strategic issues. My initial reaction to course was that it would be dry and narrow in focus; the opposite was true. A really Great Course.
Date published: 2017-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Accurate This is an excellent overview of how strategic thought should be developed. I provides an effective framework without demanding adherance to a set of "rules" or principles.
Date published: 2017-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging Instructor Dr. Wilson is engaging and there is a great flow to the lectures. Highly recommended. I also bought his audio lectures on The Are of War which were also excellent.
Date published: 2017-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent content and presentation Professor Wilson presents a most credible overview and summary of history's best known military strategic thinkers. As a educator teaching military history I have found these lectures to be invaluable. I can highly recommend them to educators and any sincere student of military history.
Date published: 2017-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from exactly what the cousre dose My only complant is that there is not one full course on Carl van clausewitch. On War is so tougjt o read and understand that a full course is needed.
Date published: 2017-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ridiculously Good! I've listened to these lectures 3 times and still going - the info and presentation style are easily comprehended.
Date published: 2017-06-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A bit disappointing This course is a rare window into the mindset at our country's paramount institution of global strategy, the Naval War College. The bad news is the mindset itself. Euphemisms like "projecting power" were meaningful in past centuries (as the lecturer notes in a fascinating review of World War II in the Pacific) but they don't fit today's struggle with terrorism. In their place, what little is offered seems more about tactics than strategy. What's missing here is a moral compass that rejects torture, whatever its tactical advantage might be, and commits to alleviating the Third World misery that leaves the average "local" sympathetic to the terrorists.
Date published: 2017-04-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Informative, well presented Found this course full of interesting, fascinating history. It was extremely well presented. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive Course covers and integrates politics, strategy, and tactics outstandingly. Many surprises as to what best courses of action states might have taken. Coverage includes ancients to present.
Date published: 2017-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really Enjoyed This Course I really enjoyed this course. I had previously listened to Wilson's The Art of War (also great!), but was otherwise completely ignorant of military strategy. He made the subject fascinating, and communicated an incredible amount of information in a way that actually stuck in my head. I feel like I now understand many of the big ideas.
Date published: 2017-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stratic Greatest Thinkers. I enjoyed the professor and gained a goodly amount of insight. Interesting material and interesting presentation. The depth of analysis of actors (historic figures) and their actions was very useful and also very interesting. The professor's presentation is also very dynamic and tends to hold one's interest, I feel.
Date published: 2016-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very worthwhile Thinking about the interaction of military, economic and political factors was very worthwhile.
Date published: 2016-10-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from What are the Assumptions Not How to Think I found this course quite boring. It goes through the basic assumptions of various strategic thinkers, but what's missing is an good analysis of the assumptions, practical application, and how to think strategically. If you want that then I'd recommend the Course on Strategic Thinking. Going through assumptions behind strategic thinking without giving examples of how its been applied and what happened when it was is rather meaningless. I was very disappointed.
Date published: 2016-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Strategic Move I really did not know what to expect with this class. I assumed, wrongly, that it would be a discussion about specific battles, generals, and wars. Instead, this class focused on the intellectual development of strategic thought over several thousand years by studying various masters who wrote books on military strategy. The professor discussed the historic context of each master, the key contributions or theories made by each, and how the master's works influenced leaders in various circumstances in world history. The highlight of the course was the discussion about theories on the use of terrorism and counter-terrorism strategies. This class provided very valuable insight into the challenges and issues facing the current War on Terror. It helped me better understand the current political context surrounding this issue, and I feel more informed as a result of taking this course. The professor was engaging and provided unique insights. I would enjoy seeing more classes by this professor.
Date published: 2016-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Rare opportunity to study the subject of strategy This course provides everyone the opportunity to study strategic thought at the same level offered to military officers at the American military war colleges and a very few civilian academic programs (which Professor Wilson lists in his last lecture). For most Great Course subject areas, there are many alternative avenues for learning. Not so here. This is a rare opportunity to delve deeply in a field that is absolutely central to today's world but for which there are very few opportunities for study. I am delighted that I found this course. Professor Wilson is a Clausewitzian. He considers Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) to be the strategist of strategists. Clausewitz contended that war was an extension of politics. Politics and war, he said, have the same logic but different grammars. The basis of his analysis is the "paradoxical trinity" of passion, genius, and logic. By passion, he meant the primal hatreds of mankind. By genius, he meant the art of the great generals in exercising their creative faculties in the midst of the chance, fog, and friction of armed conflict. By reason, he meant the strategic policies exercised by political leaders. Clausewitz abstracted the concept "absolute war", by which he meant a war without limits, an effort to annihilate the opponent utterly. Such a state of absolute war could never, Clausewitz believed, be reached in practice, because of the constraints of politics and circumstance. In this, I believe, he was proved wrong in the mid-20th century by the horrific actions of Nazi Germany and the new threat of mutual nuclear annihilation following World War II. Professor Wilson uses a Clausewitzian touchstone to analyze the writings of the other great military strategists throughout history. In successive lectures, he discourses on Thucydides' history of the Pelopennesian War; Sun Tzu and his Art of War; Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy; Jomini, the other leading strategist besides Clausewitz of the Napoleonic era; the 19th century theorists of naval power Mahan and Corbett; the air power theorists Douhet, Trenchard, Mitchell, and Warden; Mao and his concepts of revolutionary insurgency; the French theorists of counter-insurgency Galula and Trinquier; the nuclear theorists Brodie, Schelling, and Sokolovsky; and new theories of terrorism and counter-terrorism based on Fuller's view of "multiple theaters" of terrorist action. Throughout, Professor Wilson matches the theories of these strategic thinkers against historical examples. My one criticism of the course is that Professor Wilson does not elevate Sun Tzu to the same level of master strategist as Clausewitz. In contrast to Clausewitz, who viewed violent conflict as an inescapable party of history because of humanity's primal passions, Sun Tzu stated that the greatest victory is a victory achieved without battle. Although he is the oldest of the systematic strategists considered in this course, Sun Tzu may be the most important to consider today, as the infinite destructive capacity of today's weapons makes the avoidance of war a goal of the highest priority for our very survival. Modern nuclear theorists, whose bone chilling theories Professor Wilson examines in ghastly detail, may have pushed Clausewitz beyond his limits. It may well be time to turn to Sun Tzu's more harmonious outlook, which does not deny conflict but seeks to channel it away from violence through, paradoxically, a mastery of the tools of war itself (very much as mastery of a martial art can enable one to avoid fighting on a personal level). Even though this is fairly a recent Great Course (dating from 2012), I feel it already badly needs to be updated to consider the threat from ISIS, which because of its seizure of territory, is not a pure terrorist threat such as Al Qaeda and requires a somewhat different strategic analysis. Overall, this is a superb, and indeed an indispensable course to understand today's world.
Date published: 2016-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! All I can say is Wow! I feel that this is one of the better courses that I have watched from the Great Courses. Dr. Wilson makes clear what the different theories on strategy are and how they relate to each other. Before this course, I had heard of Sun Tzu, Machiavelli and Clausewitz but I had never heard of Jomini, Mahan or Corbett. I especially liked the first part about the Sicily expedition, having previously watched the Peloponnesian War course by Dr. Kenneth Harl and from having lived close to that part of Sicily for a time. I also liked the how Dr. Wilson explained why the Japanese felt the need to attack the US fleet at Pearl Harbor and why all their battle plans were always looking for that one decisive victory. I am writing this review just after the terrorist attacks in Paris, France and my only quibble is that I feel this course was recorded too soon. I have found myself thinking numerous times while watching the lectures that someone in the White House should take the time to watch this course. It would have been nice to hear what Dr. Wilson would have said about today's events and how well the current administration is following the writings of the Masters of War.
Date published: 2015-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Finally An Understanding of Why Sun Tzu is Studied Video Download Reviewed I became very tired of quick quotes from the "Art of War" being used to justify irrational business behavior, so it was a relief to learn a bit more about that work from someone who had studied the work in depth and was in a position to compare it with other studies on strategic thought and action. Professor Wilson is most knowledgeable and explained clearly and succinctly not just early writers such as Sun Tzu and Thucudides but carrying their ideas through to the (almost) present day. I particularly enjoyed learning more about Machaivelli,moot quite the black hat I had presupposed. Also I found the discussion about Clausewitz interesting, as well as the comparison of Mahan and Corbett and their influence as to the war in the Pacific. And on a final note loved the discussion as to the Japanese success in the Russo-Janenese war and their failure from the very beginning of of the decision to attack Pearl Harbour in WWII. Professor Wilson's delivery is measured, clear and calm, although appropriately animated at times. He also provides recommendations for further reading.
Date published: 2015-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course for Professionals and Civilians I'm in the profession of arms and would recommend this course to young and experienced personnel alike to continue their professional military education. This recommendation shouldn't intimidate civilians. You will gain much from this course even if you aren't studying this material for your profession. I hope this professor will do more courses in the future. I'd like to see him do an entire course dedicated to COIN or airpower.
Date published: 2015-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent title encapsulating what will be covered One of the best speakers I've seen so far. I have downloaded many courses and Mr. Wilson is very articulate and an engaging speaker. He ensures you are entertained yet understand the course material on strategies in war. You will never again just watch news and listen to military events/conflicts without thinking about the causes and reasons for actions being implemented. Fascinating course and eye opening on various historical events he explains.
Date published: 2015-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye Opener I have a long-ago history background but have never studied politics or policy. I found this course fascinating in giving me ways to think about decision-making relative to war and national aims, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries. The description of Napoleon's innovations with a non-deserting citizen army and resultant speed is just one detail that struck me . I will be listening to these lectures again as they give me some tools to evaluate foreign policy changes like the current Iran "deal" proposed for approval. The discussions of Mao's strategy, insurgency, counter-insurgency, and terrorism provide a framework for understanding news headlines. The professor is very enthusiastic and he manages to avoid "ums" and word stumbles almost completely, making for easy listening.
Date published: 2015-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommended This course was my first Great Course, and brought me back for more. The content of the course exceeded my expectations, covering actual strategic theories as well as how their implementation worked or failed in particular scenarios. Sometimes the amount of information given was overwhelming (e.g., in the Sun Tzu session) and required multiple viewings. But, I'm not going to complain about learning too much. Two thumbs up.
Date published: 2015-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Course, Disappointed by the PC I am a retired military officer and none of the concepts of strategy, nor the masters of war were new to me. However, Dr. Wilson does a very good job of presenting the salient concepts of grand strategy and its evolution. Somewhat disappointing was the political correctness laced through his lectures. For example, he mentions Grant, Sherman and Halleck but makes no mention of their antagonists, the Confederate Generals the majority of whom were also trained by the military academies in the same concepts. Why bring up Grant, if you are not going to contrast with Lee in the operational conduct of the USA's most bloody conflict. I guess we have to excuse Dr. Wilson as he was merely following the methods of today's armed forces instructional institutions. You are not allowed to discuss the Confederates or their leaders as any more than the opposing force. He just should have left the entire Civil War era out. Very sad and certainly not what I expected nor have experienced with the Great Courses. Still, I would recommend this course to others.
Date published: 2015-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great course for all Besides the fact that the author is my cousin, the course is a great explanation of why we go to war. it helps to understand why war should not be easily entered into and why we need both civil and military people involved both in the political decisions and the military strategies to accomplish the political end desired.. I especially enjoyed the just war theory and the focus on exhausting all political options before considering going to war. I am a believer in non violence except in very rare occasions. I highly recommend the course to all even those like myself who believe in non violence and peaceful settlements to conflict whenever possible. thank you cousin Andrew for a most informative course,. You are a great teacher!!
Date published: 2015-03-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Im on the fence It's clear that the instructor is familiar with military history, he's articulate, and the presented material is well rounded. Im not sure Id agree with all of his conclusions. The biggest issue I had with this course is the lecture delivery. The sentences were long and complex such that as he spoke there were pauses between the cue cards. This made it difficult to tell if he was pausing to finishing an idea or just waiting for the next cue card to come up so he could continue the sentence. As a result I found myself spending more time trying to piece together his sentences so that at the end of viewing the lecture I wasn't completely clear about what it was he was saying. Along with this there were times were he was trying to emphasize a point by facial/voice gesturing that made me think he was getting angry. I know he wasn't, but that was his gesturing pattern. Im not sure Id recommend this course, while not a bad course I was expecting more, especially after viewing the course Decisive Battles. I agree with one reviewer that suggested reading Sunnzi (sp) and the Art of War, it would probably provide more about Strategic Thinking.
Date published: 2015-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best courses I've ever taken Andrew Wilson is a masterful teacher. Whatever he talks about comes alive. Just sit back and enjoy the course!
Date published: 2015-03-11
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