Episode 10: The Captain who Taught Generals: Basil Liddell Hart

Basil Liddell Hart (1895-1970) was described by President John F. Kennedy as the “captain who taught generals”. Dr Bradley Potter joins Beatrice and Paul to discuss Liddell Hart, captain of the First World War, who took to writing about war with the aim of preventing a repetition of its great slaughter.

The tools of strategy explored by Liddell Hart ranged from city bombing, manoeuvre warfare to diplomatic means to deflect war or a transition to lasting peace. The 'lasting peace' concept cost him dearly in terms of reputation as he was an appeaser of Hitler in the 1930s, but after the Second World War his reputation recovered. Liddell Hart was the father and grandfather of a particular family of strategic analysts, steeped in the study of history rather than ahistorical theories. His pupils include Brian Bond, Sir Michael Howard, the Australian Robert O’Neill and, arguably, General André Beaufre in France. Each in turn passed on the legacy of the Liddell Hartian approach to strategic studies to their subsequent disciples. Second generation heirs included strategic analysts such as Sir Lawrence Freedman and Azar Gat.

This podcast introduces Dr Bradley Potter, Adjunct Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

The views or statements expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the podcast does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by RUSI employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of RUSI.


Beatrice Heuser

Senior Associate Fellow

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Paul O’Neill

Senior Research Fellow

Military Sciences

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