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Saw the author of this book speak recently and she discussed it at length. The overall premise of the book was that we (modern armies) have prejudices against "dirty" tactics like ambushes, thinks negatively of them, and denies that the ancients ever used by noble and honorable fighters like the ancient Greeks. Maybe historians don't get the Greeks right ever time, but as to what modern armies think of the tactics she got it dead wrong. The author went on to give examples from things like the Ranger handbook and FM 7-70, which actually proved the reverse of her point - we DO in fact teach and encourage these kinds of tactics and we don't consider them to be dirty at all.
She cited several statistics from her research on the ancient Greeks, one of which was she found 77 examples of night attacks, which she concluded were all ambushes. However, given limited visibility and communications, it's much more likely that the night attacks were not ambushes, but raids. A raid is much more easy to plan since the attackers know exactly where their target is, unlike an ambush where they would only have a general idea based on recent intelligence - something not as reliable before radios and other sophisticated technologies came along. Moreover, her favorite example of an Ambush (Troy) wasn't an ambush at all - it was a raid. The difference between an ambush and a raid is one is a movement to contact (we think we know what the enemy is and where it will be at a given time) while the other is a direct attack (we know exactly what and where the static target is). The US military is not shy about teaching either attack nor are most other armies, so it wasn't clear what the main point of the book was other than historians often focus on the cliched aspects of ancient armies and their heroes.Read more ›