"Matthews believes that a better grasp of how humans understand and adapt to their environments would improve the selection and preparation of fighters in armed forces. But Matthews warns against assuming that all combat is psychologically damaging. And he forcefully argues that the U.S. armed forces must continue to move away from being predominantly white, male, and homophobic. He also notes that the U.S. military has benefited from a greater appreciation of the cultures in which it operates and from teaching its officers how to lead in complex settings. He concludes with some thoughts about how psychology might promote peace and on the ethical issues raised by providing psychological support to armed forces when they are doing bad or foolish things: he warns, for
example, that psychologists should have nothing to do with torture. Although the book is somewhat U.S.-centric, Matthews' style is engaging and draws extensively on his own experiences." --Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affair
"Uniquely accessible and comprehensive." -- Library Journal
"Lively and engaging... When Matthews writes about his own research on the psychology of soldier performance and leadership, or his experience as a professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York, the book springs to life." -- Nature
"The application of the human and cognitive sciences to the art of war (the so called "Human Dimension") is a challenge of national importance... I invented the term Human Dimension in 1993 as a call to my war fighting colleagues to commit to making every soldier better at cognition, grit, resilience, and decision making. We've made some very halting progress. But what's missing is a volume that explains the entire issue of the Human Dimension to the public and to those policy makers in Congress and the military who determine our fate. This book is the first, and at present, the only single source for understanding the human dimension with an amazingly cogent view of what the military must do in the future to get this right. Unquestionably the best book on psychology and
war ever written."
-- Major General Robert H. Scales, US Army (Retired), Ph.D., author of Yellow Smoke: The Future of Land Warfare for America's Military
"A superb and insightful presentation of the essential building blocks to become a thoughtful military or civilian leader. This book provides good science interposed with reinforcing anecdotes. Although geared to the military reader, the lessons contained within are applicable to a much wider audience. For example, winning hearts and minds is certainly necessary knowledge for our force projection policies as we embed with indigenous forces but I believe it is just as important and relevant to executives working in multinational corporations working across cultural barriers." -- Richard Carmona, Vice Admiral (Retired), M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., 17th Surgeon General of The United States
"Head Strong is a must read for those who study war, those affected by it, and those who want to create responsive support systems that make a difference. Mike Matthews skillfully weaves history, compelling personal experiences, and scientific evidence to examine human behavior under extreme conditions. In doing so, he reveals the vital role of psychology in current and future planning and training that reduces the human toll and enables personal growth among those who go to war, first responders in our communities, and their families. This timely, thoughtful, scholarly work encourages critical discussions, partnerships, and collaboration to guide and inform effective solutions for the complex challenges of the 21st century."
-- Patty Shinseki, Board Member, The Military Child Education Coalition; Advisor, White House Joining Forces
"This excellent book, which explores a full range of psychological contributions to the profession of arms, is a must read for leaders, educators, trainers, healers, and decision makers in the military and beyond. It provides influential and timely evidence-based discussion and analysis of the most critical areas of human behavior of consequence for understanding and contributing to the military as well as civilian in extremis and more routine environments. Matthews does not glorify war but presents a balanced and mindful discussion of the human dimension within the military context and its multitude of missions - from war fighting to stability or counterinsurgency operations - in which the military of today and tomorrow operates."
-- Janice H. Laurence, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Adult and Organizational Development, College of Education, Temple University
"War is at least as psychological and social in its nature as it is an act of politics. And if, as it increasingly seems, it is less likely that future wars will be fought as large-scale state-against-state conflicts, then it is even more likely that future war will continue to be essentially psychological and social in nature, as have the most recent wars in the Middle East and Vietnam. From choosing those who will be trained to fight, to preparing those who will lead in future wars and even to influencing the political allegiance of our foes, this book is a masterful demonstration of the role of psychological science to understanding and preparing for war and its often difficult aftermath. The topics this book covers are also relevant to many other settings than the
armed forces. Written in a non-technical style, it is of immense value to anyone interested in issues of war and peace, especially the warriors of all the armed services."
-- Brigadier General Howard T. Prince II, US Army (Retired), Ph.D., Loyd Hackler Endowed Chair in Ethical Leadership, University of Texas at Austin
"Dr. Michael Matthews, a visionary scholar and practitioner, has done a masterful job in illustrating both the current and future states of the field of military psychology and its importance to military readiness. A true thought leader in the area of military psychology. This is a must read for military psychologists, commanders, and business executives who want to gain insights on how the US military develops resilient leaders of character."
-- Colonel Patrick J. Sweeney, US Army (Retired), Ph.D., Director of Leadership, Character, and Business Ethics, School of Business, Wake Forest University
"Extraordinarily refreshing read with an enlightening logical perspective on where the military could be in 2050. Dr. Mike Matthews invites us to look with an open mind to the future of possibilities based on a foundation of past experiences. His insights and personal narratives are thought provoking and written in a way to be extremely engaging for the reader. Any visionary will love this #1 book!"
-- Colonel Jill W. Chambers, US Army (Retired), CEO - This Able Vet, LLC
"If enhancing military leadership is 'too serious a business to be left to the Generals,' then this seminal book, Head Strong: How Psychology is Revolutionizing War, is a must read for military policy planners, strategic leaders, and decision makers at every level of governance as well as those potential leaders in uniform from cadet upwards. Dr. Michael Matthews's work in military psychology is read across the globe with credence and great interest; his ponderings into psychological aspects of the military are insightful as well as visionary. This book applies equally well for the corporate workplace at large. Every cognitive-behavioral psychologist will value his well researched findings on training of 21st century soldiers, be it in the realm of adaptive thinking,
cultural sensitivity, or negotiation training.
Neither kinetic power nor technology alone will win any future wars; the application of psychology to strategic military contexts is now catapulted as the force multiplier that will make the difference between victory and defeat in future conflicts."
-- Lt. Col. Samir Rawat, Indian Armed Forces (Retired), Ph.D., Military Psychologist & Soft Skills Facilitator
"Mike Matthews is one of the world's best psychologists yet he is largely unknown outside his field of expertise -- "military psychology" -- a field which sounds uninteresting and even irrelevant to a civilian. Mike changes that misperception with this excellent book. In Head Strong he explains how military psychology can and does affect our daily lives and makes fascinating predictions for how it could have an even greater positive impact on the lives of our servicemen and women and on our society in the years and decades ahead."
-- Jonathan Brown, consultant and author of Stress and Success: Fast Fixes for Turbulent Times
"A solid concept of future warfare should rely on historical lessons combined with an understanding of the human mind and military technology in actual combat. This significant book does so using state of the art psychological science. Michael D. Matthews's work reveals valuable lessons regarding the human element in current and future combat. His vision springs from his father's valor during WW2, inspiring his own lifelong journey in research, teaching and mentoring as a professional military psychologist. The result is both personally and professionally exciting."
-- Uzi Ben-Shalom, Ph.D., Bar-Ilan University & Tactical Command College, Israeli Defense Force
"In Head Strong: How Psychology is Revolutionizing War, Michael D. Matthews gives a personal and professional outlook on how behavioral science has shaped our understanding of leadership and human behavior in military organizations. In thirteen chapters this book explores the historical roots, current status and future implications of how research on human cognition, individual differences and organizational issues may shape future military operations. The book is interesting to read, as it integrates a historical perspective and brings to live case material and examples that will be of great value and interest to students at service academies around the world and an international audience interested in the science and applications of military psychology. This book also
provides valuable knowledge and perspectives for security and law enforcement personnel interested in learning more about how human capabilities can be developed and managed.
This book clearly fills gap in the literature and is highly recommended."
-- Jarle Eid, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway
"This book provides an overview of the fields of activity of military psychology against the backdrop of its history and current challenges in military deployments. However, the book's main virtue is that every chapter concludes with a look into the future about the role and relevance of psychology in future conflicts. Therefore it is not only a tremendous resource for military leaders, practitioners, scholars, and just about anyone else who wishes to know more about the science and application of psychological principles and methods in the military environment. It is rather a source of inspiration for further research as well as a starting point for the advancement of military psychology."
-- Hubert Annen, Ph.D., Head of Military Psychology and Military Pedagogy Studies, Swiss Military Academy at ETH Zurich
"As someone who never served in the military, but does have several family members who served or are currently serving, I found Head Strong to be a fascinating look at how the U.S. military is working to give members the skills they need to serve effectively and deal with the severe stresses inherent to military service. Just as there have been spin-offs from military-funded advances in chemistry, electronics, and physics, there is hope that we might get similar benefits in the field of psychology." -Curtis Frye, Technology and Society
"...an excellent new book by Michael D. Matthews..." -Jonah Lehrer, jonahlehrer.com
"In spite of the fact that the book is relatively short and an easy read, it covers a broad swath of both time and subject matter. [I]t provides a basic understanding of just how important psychology is to a modern Army, covering a wide range of topics related to psychology and mental capacity. It would make an excellent introductory text for young military officers. It is an ideal text for ROTC students; it is easy to read and understandable even for a first- or second-year cadet. [Head Strong] fills a niche and offers the right reader an important perspective on the roles of psychology, cognition and brain physiology play in terms of what it means to be a soldier and a leader." -Lt. Col. Stanley J. Wiechnik, Army Magazine
"Matthews sets himself to review the role of psychology in war today and in the recent past, and to project its place in decades to come. He ambitiously identifies his intended audience as both military psychologists and laymen. He provides tantalizing glimpses of how military psychology might influence war making in the future [...] Head Strong certainly does, [...] achieve its author's goal of stimulating 'further thoughtful and informed discussion on the role of psychology ... in the support of military operations.'" -William A. Knowlton Jr., Michigan War Studies Review