How to Fight a War

March 2023 9781787389304 272pp, 15 maps
Available as an eBook
EU customers purchase here


Has any war in history gone according to plan? Monarchs, dictators and elected leaders alike have a dismal record on military decision-making, from over-ambitious goals to disregarding intelligence, terrain, or enemy capabilities. This not only wastes the lives of civilians, the enemy and one’s own soldiers, but also fails to achieve geopolitical objectives, and usually lays the seeds for more wars down the line.

Conflict scholar and former soldier Mike Martin takes the reader through the hard, elegant logic to fighting a conclusive interstate war that solves geopolitical problems, and reduces future conflict. In cool and precise prose, he outlines how to orchestrate military forces, from infantry to information, and from strategy to tactics.

How to Fight a War explains the unavoidable, yet seemingly elusive, art of using violence to force your enemies to do what you want. It should be read by everyone seeking to understand today’s wars, as well as those wishing to lead us through the coming decades of conflict.


‘Colourful, punchy, admirably challenging and clear–essential reading for every soldier, officer and General.’ — General Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff, British Army

‘War is abhorrent and complicated. But it is also human. In this easy-to-read book Mike Martin strips away much of its technical characteristics and reminds us that war is determined by some basic tenets that only a fool ignores. How to Fight a War is for statesmen, diplomats and generals to keep by their side when conflict beckons.’ — General Douglas Chalmers (CB, DSO, OBE) Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, 2018-2021; Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge University

‘Almost all of the wars that have been fought over the last thirty years have been unsuccessful. If the leaders, generals and statesmen had read this book, they might not have been.’ — Rt Hon Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs


Mike Martin is Senior Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, where he speaks and writes on conflict. His previous books, also published by Hurst, are An Intimate War; Crossing the Congo; and Why We Fight. He tweets about conflict and geopolitics as @ThreshedThought.

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