Review (Guest): Science, Strategy and War–The Strategic Theory of John Boyd

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Force Structure (Military), Military & Pentagon Power, Science & Politics of Science, Strategy
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Frans P.B. Osinga

5.0 out of 5 stars “Hell of an Engineer”

October 24, 2010

By Retired Reader (New Mexico) – See all my reviews

Phi Beta Iota: This is the long review provided directly to Phi Beta Iota.  A shorter review can be read at the Amazon Page.

I have just completed a first read of “Boyd”, by Robert Coram and have concluded that I a made a big mistake reading Osinga’s book first. Osinga explains what Boyd did; Coram describes how he did it. If you read Coram’s book first, Osinga’s book will be much easier to tackle. Both are quite good, but Coram gives a much better sense of the context in which Boyd did his work and a better understanding of who John Boyd was and what he represented.  Robert D. Steele has an excellent review of Coram’s book that I recommend. I purchased both books at the same time, but read them in the wrong order.

I was not surprised to find from the Coram book that Boyd attracted a select group of like minded individuals who put integrity ahead of the go along to get along mehtod of moving forward. We could certainly use a similar group at the Pentagon of 2010.”

This book has the rather ambitious goal of “better understanding the strategic thought developed” by Colonel John Boyd (USAF ret.).  For the most part it succeeds in doing this. Since Boyd choose not consolidate his thoughts into one or more books, Osinga was forced to develop his information from Boyd’s slides used to brief his ideas and from Boyd’s notes.  So what does this book tell the reader about the “strategic thought” of Colonel Boyd?

Although Osinga does not address it, John Boyd appears to have had what can only be called the mind of an engineer. The application of scientific principals to practical ends seemed to come naturally to him. He actually received a degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech in 1962, but this appeared to have primarily credentialed his existing engineering talent.

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