Reconsidering the American Way of War: U.S. Military Practice from the Revolution to Afghanistan, Antulio J. Echevarria II

Reviewed by Ryan Grauer



In the four decades since Russell Weigley published The American War of War: A History of U.S. Military Strategy and Policy, the notion that the United States thinks about and fights wars in a distinct fashion has come to be accepted as true by virtually all who study American military affairs. Received wisdom on the point suggests that when the United States goes to war, it fights with an apolitical, single-minded focus on achieving decisive victory through the application of overwhelming force. Antulio J. Echevarria’s new contribution to this literature issues a powerful challenge to established thinking on all fronts, suggesting that the United States may not fight its wars in a consistent fashion, and if it does, its approach is almost certainly not that which existing analyses suggest.

In the first third of the book, Echevarria carefully establishes why readers should be skeptical that any country—but particularly the United States— might have a unique way of war, arguing that the theoretically prior concepts of strategic culture and military art are both surprisingly fragile. These aptly named preludes are followed by the most significant contribution of the book: a survey of how Americans have used force in more than 40 conflicts since the Revolutionary War. Through it, Echevarria demonstrates that the United States was never a

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