Naval War College Review


James P. Levy


We military historians have a tendency to obsess over the causes of victory and defeat in war. Like economists, we have a profound desire to identify those ac- tions that ensure success or generate failure, and like economists we are not overly good at it. At best, we can state the obvious, as when the disparity of forces between two opponents is extreme, or ascertain certain verities, like “It is good to have the better trained troops,” or “Keep your troops better equipped, fed, and rested than your opponent’s.” At worst, this obsession with winning and losing can lead to a lot of shameless Monday-morning quarterbacking and counterfac- tual historical speculation.