Edward N. Luttwak

The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire Publication date : September 30, 2010

Internationally respected as an authority on strategic studies and geopolitics, Edward Luttwak is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, D.C.

In this book, Edward Luttwak presents the strategy of the eastern Roman empire we know as Byzantine, which lasted more than twice as long as the more familiar western Roman empire. This extraordinary endurance is all the more remarkable because the Byzantine Empire was favoured neither by geography nor by military preponderance. So why did it last so much longer than the western empire, which dissolved during the fifth century?
According to Luttwak, the Byzantine Empire endured because its rulers were able to adapt strategically to diminished circumstances by devising new ways of coping with successive enemies. It relied less on military strength and more on persuasion — to recruit allies, dissuade threatening neighbours and manipulate enemies into attacking one another instead. Even when the Byzantines fought, they were less inclined to destroy their enemies than to contain them, for they were aware that today’s enemies could be tomorrow’s allies. Born in the fifth century in the face of the formidable threat posed by Attila’s Huns, who were defeated with a minimum of force, Byzantine strategy continued to be refined over the centuries.
With extraordinary precision the author analyses every aspect of the Byzantine art of warfare. In the process, he studies Byzantine religion, power, diplomacy, dynastic customs, weapons, tactics, fiscal system and even methods of espionage.

• Could the Byzantine Empire’s “resilience” provide a lesson for tomorrow’s great powers?

• This fascinating account of Byzantine strategy has already become a standard reference work — as such it follows in the footsteps of the author’s earlier book, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, which revolutionised the history of Rome and of its frontiers.

• A highly enjoyable book for anyone wishing to delve into the complexities of the Byzantine Empire, from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.