The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire

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A Review of Edward N. Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century A.D. to the Third.

Edward Luttwak’s The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century A.D. to the Third gives a militaristic analysis of the tactics used by the Roman Empire while also highlighting parallels between Rome and contemporary U.S. military policy. Luttwak divides his book into three chapters, a chapter for each of the 3 identified systems; the first chapter discusses Rome’s use of mobile armies and client states to defend her borders. The second chapter shows border defense as was provided by small groups of marching legionary troops. The third and final chapter details the transition from an offense stance to a more defensive position due to the penetration of the Empire. All of which is tied to the frontiers during the Roman Empire.

Born in Romania, Luttwak was raised in Italy and England. He received his doctorate from John Hopkins University and has consulted the Office to the Secretary of Defense, the US Military, the National Security Council, and several NATO defense ministries. When this book was written, he was the associate director of the Center for Foreign Policy Research at Johns Hopkins and is currently the Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

The introduction of The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire gives the reader great insight on what the book will present. His thesis, though complex, is well stated and easily remembered throughout the reading. Luttwak believes Rome’s tactics, weapons, and even the generals and soldiers were not superior to other cultures’ resources; however, it was the method in which they were used, and not the talent itself, that made Rome successful. Money and a manipulative diplomacy, as well as visible forces that were indeed ready to fight on the frontier, was the method used by Rome to intimidate enemies that might threaten the...
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