Philip C. Bobbitt
The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History
Philip Bobbitt, a historian of nuclear strategy who has served in the White House, the Senate, and the National Security Council, brilliantly addresses the transformation of the nature of war and, with it, developing changes in statecraft as profound as history has yet seen.
- "One of the best books of the year."
– The Times Literary Supplement (London, Pankaj Mishra)
- "One of the best books in 2002 on politics and current affairs."
– The Economist
- "Majestic … It is also argumentative, opinionated, brilliant."
– William Shawcross
- "A triumph … Grand in scale and original in concept, amazingly
learned, often provocative, consistently absorbing."
– David McCullough
- "It is easy to feel, as Virginia Woolf once said about an earlier cataclysm,
that after Sept. 11 human consciousness changed, that before hand no one
could have guessed at the kinds of traumas and transformations that were
about to unfold. But judging from this book (which after a decade of work,
must have been all but complete at the time) the historian Philip Bobbitt
had a pretty good idea … Mr. Bobbitt's evolutionary map of warfare's
impact on the state foreshadows the kinds of events still unfolding. What
has happened since (even last week's announcement that Russia is now
affiliated with its onetime nemesis, NATO) fits eerily well with his
speculations … This book is magisterial in its scope and ambition."
– The New York Times
- "[T]his sensitivity is reflected in the worldliness of his analyses. His
urbanity is not merely intellectual; he has a highly developed and quite
unacademic feeling for power, a feeling attainable, perhaps, only by those
who have had some share in its exercise … This book – with its
masterly reappraisal of modern history and subtle elucidation of today's
geopolitics – should be on every desk in the State Department."
– National Review
- "Philip Bobbitt is to be saluted for undertaking an epic struggle to sort
through an extraordinarily dynamic time in international affairs."
– Washington Post Book World
- "I take off my hat to the author for the boldness of his enterprise, for his
scholarship, and for his capacity to get the reader to think along new
lines … The Shield of Achilles may well become a classic for
– New York Review of Books
- "THE SHIELD OF ACHILLES should become required reading not only in
the academy but for the military and civilian decision-makers of the
– The Weekly Standard
- "Bobbitt's central message is the reminder that a state's legitimacy is
tied to its ability to monopolize the use of force and operate effectively
in an international strategic environment. Today, however, the capacities
of states to do so are changing rapidly – and thus so will the
character of the modern state."
– Foreign Affairs
- "In the Shield of Achilles, Philip Bobbitt presents an extraordinarily
sophisticated and comprenhesive survey of war, peace and nationhood …
[It] will enhance the intellectual underpinnings of policy by encouraging
the next generation of national and global leaders to consider the complex
issues they will have to address. Philip Bobbitt has made a valuable
contribution to wider understanding of how the world really works."
– The Dallas Morning News
- "From the fascinating account of the partnership of Colonel House and
Woodrow Wilson to the extended discussion of the Yugoslav breakup, this
book will certainly stimulate a needed discussion of America's foreign
policy, especially as we drift into a state of endless war against an
– Christian Science Monitor
- "Once in a great while, there comes a book so ambitious in scope and so
original in its insights that it challenges our comfortable patterns of
thought and provokes widespread discussion in academic and political
circles. The Shield of Achilles clearly does…a rare and important
– Fort Worth Star Telegram
- "Indeed, what is truly curious is not the radical revolution in science and
culture that again Mr. Bobbitt so deftly and comprehensively describes –
computers, global communications and transportation, nuclear proliferation,
and random terrorism – but how the United States through its
reactionary 18th century Constitution, unwieldy Congress, and traditional
carriers, jets, and subs, has been able to keep the peace and protect its
citizens without creating new consortiums or altering its existing political
framework. All that may change. But for now, Mr. Bobbitt's often brilliant
catalog of the current global chaos remains just that – an astute
– The Washington Times
- "This book is a passionate and worthy effort to make sense of what is clearly
a brand new world. And it is a useful antidote – if one is necessary
after September 11 – to the notion that the defeat of communism means
we all live in a safe neighborhood."
– New York Sun
- "With seasonal regularity a book appears that bids to be the one weighing
down the briefcases carried in and out of government agencies and corporate
headquarters. Invariably, the book contains a stark thesis, an easy fluency
with history, and a set of prescriptions addressing future threats and
opportunities. Philip Bobbitt's book might be seen as the latest such bid,
but it's actually a considerably more nuanced, sophisticated, and in parts
powerful avatar than this lineage often generates."
– Wilson Quarterly
- "The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History," by Philip
Bobbitt. Yep, this one is just as serious as it sounds. On the other hand,
it is such a good mind-stretcher, such a gift for getting one's head out of
daily minutiae and onto more enduring and important matters. Like a good
teacher, Bobbitt first tells you what he's going to tell you, but I found
plenty of surprises along the way. This is a big book in every way:
Bobbitt is weaving together enormous amounts of history. It seems to me more
the way Europeans approach history than the way Americans do (although
Bobbitt teaches at the University of Texas Law School and is, incidentally,
– Molly Ivins, "Holiday picks for bookworms."