Luttwak is not a Historian nor a Byzantinist – that’s evident throughout The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire. He is, though, a savvy political and military thinker and he applies himself to the Empire’s thousand year struggle against limitless enemies in an energetic way.
Apparently in his previous, similar volume on the Early Roman Empire he made a misstep in describing a ‘Deep lying’ defense strategy. Here his thesis is far less controversial (perhaps self evident) that, as their military power waned, the Byzantines had to adopt more considered, indirect ways to manage their enemies.
There are omissions and strangely American sensibilities, nevertheless The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire is terrifically interesting. Nowhere more so than in Luttwak’s analysis of the Byzantine military manuals. It’s here that he teases out the Grand Strategy and illustrates the great panoply of techniques deployed against the barbarians: Defeat but don’t destroy (what fills the vacuum could be worse); the use of bribery and the sowing of discord; the importance of the navy and so on. Good stuff.