Overall, Ways of War provides a solid history of the military and warfare in the United States from the colonial era to the present. It is not without its shortcomings, though considering its objectives as a textbook for survey classes, needing to provide enough information for students to become knowledgeable in the field while also not losing them in the details and keeping the amount of material manageable for the time constraints of a course, it accomplishes a lot
It was America’s good fortune—Manifest Destiny if you will—to rise on a temperate continent with abundant resources. Great Britain ceded its empire in part because it could trust and rely on the United States. America does not share this luxury. Pragmatism must be America’s watchword, for neither isolationism nor unilateralism will work.
It is said that Germans after World War II stated that they did not like to fight the Americans, as they never stuck to their own doctrine or tactics. Russian doctrine too stated that U.S. forces were unpredictable because all their plans went to hell once a battle had begun. Perhaps that is why one of the great U.S. Army maxims is “No plan survives first contact.” It is true that we tend to bring some “innovations” to war, intentional or not. This could be termed the “tactical” American Way of War. Scholars have spent a lot of time, ink, and breath arguing what the “American Way of War” is, or even if one exists. Russel Weigley has argued that the American Way of War is to bring overwhelming force to bear on the enemy and crush them in absolute and total victory. For myself, hardly daring to even call myself a scholar, I will leave that argument to others with more money and time, but I do have a theory on what I like to call the “American Penchant of War.”