Military strategies compared to Star Wars are the theme of the 28 essays within Strategy Strikes Back. Focusing on both past warfare and the wars to come, it is comprehensively researched and annotated.
I have to say that only reviewers will have the patience to read a foreword, a preface and an introduction all in one book. You can probably skip all three though I’m going to quote the Introduction later. The remaining book is split into four sections: Society and War, Preparation for War, Waging a War, and Assessment of War. There is also an epilogue.
I selected this book solely because of one of its authors, Max Brooks. I adored his World War Z book (not so much the movie though the visuals were awesome—who can forget the zombies climbing the city’s walls). Unfortunately, he only pens the introduction and first essay. However, he included some profound thoughts on why an average person should care about military strategy. As he states “to be blunt, war impacts everyone […] from the language we speak to the land we live in to the god we choose or don’t choose to worship.” Using Star Wars as an easily understood analogy was another co-writer’s idea he actually used when tasked with training South Koreans in military strategy.
The essays vary widely in style. Some read like dissertations, others like pop culture fandom. Most are written in third person. One is written in first person by the “esteemed historian of the Galactic Civil War”, who I assume is fictional.
There are a few errors within. Saying that Leia caused woman to be taken more seriously in leadership roles may be arguably true. Saying that she influenced Wonder Woman is absurd when she predates Leia by more than three decades in comics. In contrast, some things that sound unbelievable are actually true like the chapter note referencing Wookieepedia, which is the actual name of the Star Wars wiki.
Overall, I enjoyed reading Strategy Strikes Back. But it isn’t for everyone, readers should be familiar with Star Wars but not too familiar or the duplicate descriptions of battle scenes will become tiresome. I enjoyed the essays that included less Star Wars and more current or future war strategies and weapons. How is the clone army’s swarm mindset being replicated with US military drones? How did the Soviets and US militaries spend millions exploring Jedi mind tricks like Anakin’s floating fruit over a banquet table? Yes, more please. Some other essays droned on and on like the classic military strategy texts described by Max Brooks in the Introduction as “total snoozefests”. So difficult to rate, this book is. (You knew I had to do it somewhere in this review). For Star War nerds (you know who you are) or war fanciers, 5 stars. For all others, 3 stars. So 4 stars overall.
Thanks to the publisher, University of Nebraska/Potomac Books, and NetGalley for an advance copy.