Synopses & Reviews
The ideas of US Air Force Colonel John Boyd have transformed American military policy and practice. A first-rate fighter pilot and a self-taught scholar, he wrote the first manual on jet aerial combat; spearheaded the design of both of the Air Force's premier fighters, the F-15 and the F-16; and shaped the tactics that saved lives during the Vietnam War and the strategies that won the Gulf War. Many of America's best-known military and political leaders consulted Boyd on matters of technology, strategy, and theory.
In The Mind of War, Grant T. Hammond offers the first complete portrait of John Boyd, his groundbreaking ideas, and his enduring legacy. Based on extensive interviews with Boyd and those who knew him as well as on a close analysis of Boyd's briefings, this intellectual biography brings the work of an extraordinary thinker to a broader public.
"While it is true and obvious that the process of military innovation results from the confluence of diverse political, economic, organizational, and technological factors, it is also true that specific individuals color the outcomes of those
developmental processes. Ideas originated in the minds of people and ideas are the stuff of military strategy and doctrine. Platitudes aside, Air Force Colonel John Boyd's influence on the American military writ large was huge, cutting across service branches and affecting the manner in which the military approached all of the levels of war (tactical, operational, and strategic). Among his many accomplishments, Boyd was a highly successful pilot and wrote the first manual on jet aerial combat, was instrumental in the development and procurement of the F-15 and F-16, and shaped tactics were widely employed in the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. All of this is exceptionally impressive, but what is most remarkable about John Boyd is the conceptual revolution that he spearheaded in the military reform movement of the 1970"s and 1980"s. Put simply, Boyd created the theoretical underpinnings for the massive doctrinal reorientation culminating in FM 100—5. The most important aspect of this book is the analysis of Boyd's Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action (OODA) cycle. The 'Boyd Loop' is critical to understanding the way the American military approaches operations. This is an excellent biography of a pivotal individual in American military history." Reviewed by Ed Imhoff, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
More than a biography, and a superb one, this book is a well-deserved tribute to an extraordinary patriot. (Gary Hart, former US Senator)
A must read for all those who want to understand how to think about war. (General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC, former commander of CENTCOM)
Based on extensive interviews with Boyd and with those who knew him, The Mind of War is the first biography of this pivotal figure in American military history.
About the Author
Grant T. Hammond, director of the Center for Strategy and Technology and professor of international relations at the Air War College, is the author of Plowshares into Swords: Arms Races in International Politics, 1840-1991.