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The Art of Military Innovation

Lessons from the Israel Defense Forces

Edward N. Luttwak, Eitan Shamir

ISBN 9780674660052

Publication date: 10/10/2023

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A world-leading military strategist and an IDF insider explain the improbable success of the Israeli armed forces.

When the Israel Defense Forces was established in May 1948, it was small, poorly equipped, and already at war. Lacking sufficient weaponry or the domestic industrial base to produce it, the newborn military was forced to make do with whatever it could get its hands on. That spirit of improvisation carried the IDF to a decisive victory in the First Arab-Israeli War.

Today the same spirit has made the IDF the most powerful military in the Middle East and among the most capable in the world. In The Art of Military Innovation, Edward N. Luttwak and Eitan Shamir trace the roots of this astounding success. What sets the IDF apart, they argue, is its singular organizational structure. From its inception, it has been the world’s only one-service military, encompassing air, naval, and land forces in a single institutional body. This unique structure, coupled with a young officer corps, allows for initiative from below. The result is a nimble organization inclined toward change rather than beholden to tradition.

The IDF has fostered some of the most significant advances in military technology of the past seventy years, from the first wartime use of drones to the famed Iron Dome missile defense system, and now the first laser weapon, Iron Beam. Less-heralded innovations in training, logistics, and human resources have been equally important. Sharing rich insights and compelling stories, Luttwak and Shamir reveal just what makes the IDF so agile and effective.


  • Rich with rare detail, much of it a result of the authors’ access to the IDF’s inner sanctums and their intimate knowledge of grand strategy and military history.

    —Tunku Varadarajan, Wall Street Journal


  • Edward N. Luttwak is the author of several books, including Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook; Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace; and The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy, which have been published in twenty-five languages. His articles have appeared in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, Foreign Affairs, and Tablet.
  • Eitan Shamir is Director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at Bar Ilan University. He formerly served as Head of National Security Doctrine at the Israeli Office of Strategic Affairs. He is the author of Transforming Command: The Pursuit of Mission Command in the U.S., British, and Israeli Armies.

Book Details

  • 288 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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