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The Wars of the Ancient Greeks and Their Invention of Western Military Culture (The Cassell history of Warfare) Hardcover – December 31, 1999
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More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Hanson, for those who somehow have missed him until now, is a professor of Classics at California State and also is a part time farmer, both of which have contributed to his writing as a military historian. As a classicist, Hanson is well versed in the sources in their original Greek, and as a farmer he understands how agriculture affected the experience of the Greeks at war. For it was the farmers of the early Greek polis who developed modern western warfare. Unlike other cultures, the Greek farmers couldn't afford to support professional armies or hire mercenaries, and they couldn't spend a great deal of time away from their farms campaigning. The Greek way of war was to gather up the militia, which comprised all the able bodied men of property who could afford the armor and equipment of a hoplite, march out to a convenient flat field to meet the men of the polis they were warring with, and in a matter of hours, get it over with in quick, brutal, decisive battle.Read more ›
First of all it is important to be aware that the author assumes the readers knowledge of primary texts of the era. He refers frequently to books such as Herodotous Histories, Thucydides Peloponnesian war, Xenophon's Anabasis and the works of Plutarch, Arrian, Polybius and Xeno amongst others.
Victor Davis Hanson believes that the way we fight today is a direct descendant of the Greek method of fighting. He contends that the successes of the Greeks against Persian armies dictated the development of war down to the present day.
This is a huge contention and one that I believe he fails to support. He speaks at length about the "Western way of war" without establishing how this differed significantly from other military systems. His contention that it was only in Greece that shock battle developed is flawed. Shaka, king of the Zulu nation, independently developed shock battle tactics, and he can be only one of many who came to the same end result from different starting points.
At times I felt that Hanson was trying to be sensationalist in making contentious statements that are ill supported by argument. Some examples of this tendancy are the following brave assertions!:
"The great Chinese military strategist Sun-tzu is sometimes cryptic, often mystical, and always part of some larger religious paradigm."
"Too many scholars like to compare Alexander to Hannibal or Napoleon. A far better match would be Hitler....Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I don't think the West is the inheritor of Greek military preeminence. The author forgets the centuries of dominance by Asiatics: Huns, Avars, Mongols, Arabs and Turks. Read morePublished on August 29, 2012 by Gderf
Victor Hanson is one of the best military historians (if not the best) who writes about ancient Western cultures and the development of Western military traditions. Read morePublished on January 31, 2012 by a reader
I was very impressed by the Book about the Ancient Greeks experiences with War. Mr. Hanson is a very capable writer who packs in a lot of detail into his narration. Read morePublished on July 27, 2011 by David D. Lawson
A different approach to warfare with a lot of details that usually are not cover by other war writers
Recently, my wife and I traveled to Greece and visited several historical sites of military importance. Upon reading this book, my experiences have been enhanced. Read morePublished on November 22, 2008 by James A. Mcmann
One has a sneaking suspicion reading this volume that Hanson started with his conclusion first (that Greeks invented the so-called "Western" way of war which, according to Hanson,... Read morePublished on December 7, 2006 by Michael Jasinski
There are some things about this book that are worthy of praise and I agree with many of its points (though he oversells some of them. Read morePublished on January 21, 2006 by Red Harvest