Since its publication in 1911, Sir Julian's Corbett's Some Principles of Maritime Strategy has remained a key document within naval strategic thinking. Yet despite his undoubted influence, Corbett's theories have not been subjected to scientific review and systematic comparison with other naval thinkers. In this assessment, Dr Widen has provided a fresh interpretation of Corbett's legacy and his continued relevance as a classic theorist of naval war. Divided into three parts, the book begins with a brief biographical overview of Corbett's life, highlighting in particular his bibliographic history and the influences on his thinking. The latter two sections then describe and assess Corbett's views on military and naval theory, respectively. Together these two parts represent his overall theory of maritime strategy, including his conception of limited war, his intellectual debt to Clausewitz, command of the sea, his critic of decisive battle, as well as the different methods of naval operations. By means of a thorough assessment of Corbett's theory of maritime strategy, Dr Widén highlights the continued relevance of his theories. Both the strengths and shortcomings of Corbett's thinking are discussed and reflections offered on their intellectual, practical and doctrinal value. In so doing, Dr Widen has written a book that deserves to be read by anyone with an interest in the past, present or future of maritime strategy.
Table of Contents
Contents: Foreword, Geoffrey Till; Introduction; Part I The Man, His Times and Scholarly Achievements: Life and historical works; Theoretical works and influences. Part II Military Theory in a Maritime Context: The epistemology of war; General theory of war. Part III Naval Theory as the Ends and Means in Naval Warfare: Theory of naval war; Theory of naval operations; General conclusions; Bibliography; Index.
J.J. Widen is Associate Professor in War Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, Stockholm, Sweden.
'This monograph is methodologically creative, theoretically sophisticated in its deft analysis of Corbett’s writings, and highly readable. An excellent - even elegant - piece of work.’-- Maria Stern, University of Gothenburg
'Theorist of Maritime Strategy is a thoughtful work of considerable interest, and its author certainly succeeds in demonstrating that Corbett is a figure worthy of attention even today.'--Comparative Strategy
'... Widen reminds the reader that the study of military and naval theory is far too important to be left to academics. His book deserves to be on the reading list for all naval officers, and any politicians or member of the public who desires to know what navies are for.'--Warships - International Fleet Review
'Widén’s work is an interesting monograph on Corbett, who in addition to the American Alfred T. Mahan and the Frenchman Raoul Castex is considered to be the greatest naval thinker of his time. However, it is not the person Corbett who is in Widén’s spotlight, but the Englishman’s thoughts on warfare... Corbett’s evolution from lawyer to historian and finally to naval strategic thinker is clearly described by Widén. Sometimes his story is really very amusing.'--Mariner’s Mirror
'Dr J.J. Widen [...] has produced a most interesting new study of the works of Sir Julian Corbett, a doyen of Britsh maritime strategists... the analysis is engaging and important... Dr Widen must be congratulated for a new and most thoughtful analysis of a key strategic thinker.'--Defense & Security Analysis
'... this is a very sophisticated and illuminating exposition on Corbett’s theories... This is a monograph that assumes both a high degree of familiarity with Corbett’s work and a good knowledge of most other naval and military thinkers of the period.'--Diplomacy & Statecraft