Letter to the Editor: Lacey vs. Luttwak

What an interesting review of my book—Rome: Empire Strategy (“Roman Refutation” by Edward Luttwak, November 6). To the best of my knowledge, this is the first review of any of my books written by a reviewer who shows no sign of having read it.

How can I know?

Well, it begins with, “Now that another book (I think number 19) has appeared to challenge…” If he had read even the introduction, Luttwak would have discovered that my book is the first full defense of his position. in almost five decades. I guess he’s so used to being attacked that he assumes any book on the subject must be another attack.

The second clue is that he wrote an entire review without touching on a single section of my book. It looks like he looked at the title and then checked the index for his name…disregarding everything else. So instead we are treated to a diatribe about how many languages ​​Luttwak speaks, that he studied economics, that he writes about missiles, that he loves Aeschylus plays, that he worked for the Secretary of Defense and that he misspelled a word in his thesis.

We also learn that “feminine” doctors have attacked his position on Roman strategy. Just asking, what does it matter if his attackers were “women”?

You’d think Luttwak would be grateful to me for decisively proving his two female detractors (Susan Mattern and Kimberly Kagan) wrong, as are all of his “male” doctors. critics.

His only criticism of me is that I’m not a classic, which I talk about at length in my introduction. The book has been rated by four of the most renowned classics still alive. They found no problem in my historical account. So, I wonder what problems Luttwak discovered, since he didn’t mention a single troubling point he found in the book.

My favorite part of his review is at the end, where he finally (but briefly) addresses my work to accuse me of doing something that I explicitly avoided and addressed in my introduction. It’s a shame to see Luttwak stuck in the past with the works of Mommsen (written over 150 years ago), when the field has come so far in the last few decades alone. It is clear from the review that Luttwak has not bothered to keep up with the mass of recent studies.

That was a pretty good review…assuming the reader was looking for a short biography of Luttwak.

Dr James Lacey
Horner Chair in War Studies
Marine Corps War College

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