4.7 / 5.0
Bottom Line: Victoria is a teaching tool for 4th Generation War (4GW) students. This book is a very good series of short stories which help readers build an intuition for 21st century and beyond war, which will be 4GW to a large extent.
This book should not be viewed as a novel, although that is how it is presented. It is really a series of short stories, loosely tied together on the theme of a future collapse in the liberal global order. Though the political setting of the book is designed to make Lind’s dedicated fans feel at home, it’s not really important for a serious 4GW student. I’m just as happy studying Hezbollah as I am a movement of traditionalists in the United States, which is the best way to describe the protagonists in Victoria.
The basic pattern of Victoria is to present a seemingly difficult problem, which the protagonists then solve by using a mixed and innovative approach, characteristic of successful 4GW. Lind’s intent seems to be to use each chapter to present a realistic pattern for a future conflict, and to then show how a thinking man would solve it.
In one instance, they defeat local politicians by recruiting friendly media outlets to create a public firestorm. In another, they use WW2 era tanks to make rapid 3GW maneuvers once the danger of air attack as passed. In still another instance, they recruit criminal organizations to set off a bomb near an enemy port, which gives the appearance they have more power than they really do.
Though the book has a loose storyline, it isn’t necessary to read it in order. The book has some value as a reference; the reader can flip back to a chapter that relates to current events or a historical scenario in order to get insight into the power dynamics between the two sides.
Lind’s military background included his part in a very serious attempt to reform the US military in the late 1980s to be a 3rd Generation War force. 3GW is the German Blitzkrieg, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and the US Army in Desert Storm. The point is to break through an enemies lines with speed, and disrupt them at the operational level. According to Lind, the US military generally practices 2GW, which means to bombard the enemy with pre-assault fires, and then assault to take ground.
This background probably explains why Lind seems to strongly eschew 2GW in this book — he figures we have enough examples of it in current events and history and it does not need to be taught. By contrast, the book features a good bit of 4GW, some 3GW, and even a particular scene of 1GW. Part of 4GW also means to use and time the other generations of war to maximum information and strategic effect.
More on Victoria’s Learning Model
I am curious as to whether William Lind intentionally used the experiential learning model (ELM). The ELM is a learning model intended to touch on the primary ways adults learn, and Victoria seems to follow this model to engage as many adult readers as possible.
The Concrete Experience is simply reading an engaging scenario. Observation and reflection is really discussion, and it occurs in Victoria through the dialogue. Abstract Concepts means lecture style learning, and occasionally occurs as during soliloquies by Rumford or Kraft, the two main protagonists. Testing in new Situations is really a practical exercise, and of course cannot occur in a book.
The Bad and Ugly
There isn’t much bad about the book. Parts of it are kind of corny. The storyline is somewhat loose. The depiction of The South is downright cartoonish and grating. I give Lind a pass on this in general, because his portraying nations in stark contrasts allows him to better illustrate subtle 4GW cultural concepts.
Ultimately, this book is a good set of stories that illustrate various realistic 4GW situations. Even the unintelligent will get an entertaining novel out of the deal. Intelligent 4GW students will use this book to build their intuition about 4GW situations, as well as get guidance from the protagonists’ reading lists for further study.