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How to Win on the Battlefield

The 25 Key Tactics of All Time

Rob Johnson, Michael Whitby, John France


When the fighting begins, every commander, in any field of conflict, has to face the question of How to Win on the Battlefield


This ground-breaking book examines, in a series of case studies, 25 of the key tactics that have achieved victory through the ages. Drawing on examples of battles from around the globe, on land, at sea and in the air, and across history, the authors reveal the enduring value of each tactic in clear and compelling descriptions and analysis.

How can you off-balance your enemy? When is the best moment to deliver a counter-attack? What is the effect of shock action or defence in depth? Certain tactical concepts have stood the test of time. General Robert E. Lee, although heavily outnumbered achieved a remarkable victory through an audacious flanking manoeuvre at Chancellorsville in 1863; the same bold move had been used over 600 years before by the king of France at Bouvines. For the Parthian general Surenas at Carrhae in 53 BC and again for Kitchener at Omdurman in 1989, an overwhelming concentration of firepower ensured a decisive outcome, while drawing the enemy led to victory both for Saladin at Hattin in 1187 and for the Russians against Napoleon in 1812. The book examines how Allied armies seized and retained the initiative through the airborne landings in Normandy in 1944, and how Soviet General Zhukov pierced enemy lines and penetrated in depth using Blitzkrieg tactics in Mongolia in 1939.

Evocative photographs, illustrations and paintings, and a series of specially commissioned battle plans complete this detailed study of the most successful tactics of all time. Written by leading experts, how to Win on the Battlefield will prove indispensable reading for historians, military enthusiasts and business leaders.

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'A useful and timely reminder of the theory of tactics that have evolved during the long history of warfare.'
General Sir Michael Rose, former Adjutant General of the British Army and author of Washington’s War

'This excellent book should be read widely by today’s commanders'
General Lord Guthrie, former Chief of the Defence Staff

'A penetrating distillation of the … fundamentals of battle - winning tactics … as much essential reading for the student of war as for the corporate strategist.'
Commander Tim Ash, Royal Navy Head of Defence Studies

'Original and innovative … both specialists and general readers will learn much from this treatment.'
Michael Neiberg, author of Fighting the Great War: A Global History

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Further Details


Format: Hardback

Size: 22.9 x 16.6 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Illustrations: 113

Publication date: 12 April 2010

ISBN: 9780500251614

Contents List

Introduction; 1 The Attack at the Centre of Gravity ; 2 Counter-Attack; 3 Surprise Attack and Ambush; 4 Envelopment and Double-Envelopment; 5 Flanking; 6 Dominating the Terrain and Using the Environment; 7 Echelon Attack; 8 Committing the Reserve; 9 Blitzkrieg; 10 Concentration of Firepower; 11 Shock Action; 12 Co-ordination of Fire and Movement; 13 Concentration and Culmination of Force; 14 Seizing and Retaining the Initiative; 15 Off-Balancing and Pinning; 16 Mass; 17 Defence in Depth; 18 Strategic Offence and Tactical Defence; 19 Drawing the Enemy; 20 Deception and Feints; 21 Terror and Psychological Warfare; 22 Attrition and Annihilation; 23 Intelligence and Reconnaissance; 24 Insurgency and Guerrilla Warfare; 25 Counter-Insurgency

About the Author

Rob Johnson is Deputy Director of the Changing Character of War Programme, Oxford University and Lecturer in the History ofWar.

John France is Professor Emeritus, University of Swansea and Director of the Callaghan Centre for the Study of Conflict.

John France is Professor Emeritus, University of Swansea and Director of the Callaghan Centre for the Study of Conflict

List of Contributors

John France