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Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 21, 2013

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Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World + The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost - From Ancient Greece to Iraq + Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (May 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034552697X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345526977
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Two distinguished military historians offer yet another (and undeniably successful) effort to update Sir Edward Creasy’s classic, TheFifteen Decisive Battles of the World (1908). The 20 battles range from classical antiquity (Marathon) to the Second Iraqi War, and each battle (or as with Vicksburg, campaign) is placed in its historical context, with economic and social factors added as relevant. The criterion for ­decisiveness—Would a different outcome have changed the world?—seems to be reasonable, and the actual battle narratives have notes for scholars and clarity for lay readers. The focus is definitely on Western history, and not all of the minor details are quite right (e.g., Nelson’s Victory did not have 50 32-pounders on each broadside), but literate narratives and balanced conclusions should attract a deservedly large readership. --Roland Green


“Two world-class historians present, eloquently and persuasively, twenty battles that fundamentally changed the course of history. Moment of Battle is a must acquisition for anyone seeking to understand the nature of human development—and its turning points.”—Dennis E. Showalter, professor of history, Colorado College, author of Armor and Blood
“In a single volume, James Lacey and Williamson Murray have distilled a lifetime of learning and insight into the most influential battles in world history. This is a readable and compelling primer and a feast for the student of military history.”—James D. Hornfischer, author of Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal
Moment of Battle is an exciting account of important battles in history from Marathon in 490 B.C. to Baghdad in 2003. Its authors are excellent military historians with personal experience in modern warfare and a command of the character of warfare throughout the ages. They write in clear and lively prose in a way that will capture the reader’s interest even as they communicate their own learning and excitement with the subject.”—Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor of Classics and History, Yale University
“Lacey and Murray have performed a signal service by reminding readers of the transcendent importance of major battles in shaping history. Readers can disagree with some of their selections, but that is part of the fun of a work like this: It makes you think even as it entertains and informs. This is an invaluable primer on military history.”—Max Boot, author of Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present
“The world’s greatest battles are common book themes; but Lacey and Murray offer two twists to the well-known genre. First, they focus on mostly unappreciated encounters such as Yarmuk, Vicksburg, Kursk, and Dien Bien Phu. Second, their accounts are not mere strategy and tactics, but human stories of the soldiers that won and lost these horrific battles. The result is a riveting human story about how 2,500 years of history were changed by a few remarkable individuals.”—Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, author of Carnage and Culture and The Savior Generals
Moment of Battle is a more than worthy successor to Sir Edward Creasey’s classic, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. It has extraordinary value because it accomplishes three things unusually well: It has a necessarily largely tactical (and operational) organizing idea and focus that is executed superbly; it is written with a strategic sense that is ever alert to the vital strategist’s question ‘So what?’; and it is accessibly written. It is a really good read.”—Professor Colin S. Gray, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Reading
“From Marathon to the Iraq War, Moment of Battle offers an unflinching account of the reality of conflicts that have shaped human history. Its wise and crisp chapters make ancient history fresh and put current events in perspective. This is a book for every student of military history to read and learn from.”—Barry Strauss, author of Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership
“At last, two eminent military historians have explained how the world’s most critical battles affected the course of civilization. Moment of Battle is a fresh, lively, and remarkable explanation about how the power of armies has shaped history.”—Bing West, co-author of Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War
“Undeniably successful . . . Literate narratives and balanced conclusions should attract a deservedly large readership.”Booklist
“Will open interesting doors for casual readers and provide plenty of debate fodder for military-history buffs.”Kirkus Reviews
“Engaging, well written, and thoroughly researched, this book will appeal to amateur and professional historians alike.”Publishers Weekly

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Customer Reviews

An extremely well written book that is very well researched.
Michael P. Sarras Jr.
This book provides an overview of the battles, not going into exhausting depth, and relating each to important development of history.
Edward T. Hamilton
I would recommend this book for any military history enthusiast.
Joel R.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Historian on August 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
TO ALL REVIEWERS -- Thank you very much for your comments. I am very pleased that the overwhelming number of you appear to have really enjoyed the book. I am even more pleased that the almost everyone who gave MOMENT OF BATTLE less than four stars did so because of quibbles over our selection of battles, or over maps. That means that almost everyone enjoyed our writing and stories we told. --- This is very pleasing to both of us.

When we sat down to write this book my co-author and I discussed - with a minimum of threats and violence upon one another - one or two hundred battles before selecting the 20 we included. From the start we knew we would get beat up over our choices... there is just no way to make everyone happy. If we had done 50 battles, I am sure that we would have included all the ones our reviewers say we missed (maybe not Manzikert). Moreover, if we ever do a second volume, I think we will draw most of our selections from the Amazon reviews of Moment of Battle. We did actually consider making a list of 100 battles at the end, with a short explanation of why each did not make our final selection list. In retrospect, we should have done that.

Why no Asian, African, or South American Battles? For a number of reasons. For one, both authors are experts in Western military history, and was there is a natural tendency to play to our strengths. Next, we go into great depth describing historical backgrounds, as well as the battles themselves. The historical material necessary to do the same for many non-Western battles does not, unfortunately, exist in anything near the volume available to those researching Western battles. Moreover, this is a commercial publication...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James V. Di Crocco III on June 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is an outstanding work by two renowned military historians that updates Creasy's 19th century classic, "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World." Each of the battles described and dissected are well chosen and set in proper context. This work is highly recommended and should find a prominent place on the bookshelves of all military officers.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Severian TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
No one really reads Creasey any more, but a need remains for newcomers to military history to have a good starting point that can set them on the road to learning about various periods and conflicts. Moment of Battle (hereafter MOB) is a good replacement for Creasey, at least for newcomers or single period specialists just branching out (e.g. you like WW2 and want to start to read about other eras). More experienced military lit buffs will find little new here, which is a mild disappointment given Murray's name on the cover. I loved "A War to Be Won" and expected the same "intermediate level" approach here, but the subject and / or the different co-author keeps things a bit more basic.

As can be predicted, some of the choices of battles are cliched. Midway, Normandy, Marathon, ho-hum. If you've ever read anything about these battles, you will find little new here. As might also be predicted, there are a few odd choices that fans of the various conflicts might disagree with: Vicksburg rather than Gettysburg, Trafalgar rather than Waterloo, Kursk rather than Stalingrad or Moscow. The authors do not make much of an effort to justify why one battle rather than another was selected, so its kind of take it or leave it as far as selection rationale goes. There are some inexplicable exclusions (Lepanto) and at least one inexplicable inclusion: "Operation Peach" in the Second Gulf (Iraq) War which seems to be in here solely because one of the authors fought in it. The Peach chapter goes on about how the Iraq War was probably significant one way or the other, triumph or failure, and then goes right into detail with no further analysis.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Aaron C. Brown TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ever since Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy published The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World in 1851 amateur historians and professional military men have produced their own versions. The best of the lot, in my opinion, is Fletcher Pratt's The Battles that Changed History but there are other strong entries. Unlike almost all the rest, Paul Davis' 100 Decisive Battles goes outside the ancient Greece-Roman Empire-Medieval Europe-Modern Europe lineage to consider important historical events in other eras and cultures, but the coverage is shallow. Jeremy Black's The Seventy Great Battles in History has marvelous illustrations and professional history, but a bare minimum of military description. 50 Battles That Changed the World by William Weir is the best-written and most entertaining, emphasizing the viewpoint of battle participants, but is weak on scholarship. So depending on your interest: history, military affairs, people, entertainment, you have a wealth of choices.

While this book is a respectable effort, clear and accurate, I can't think of a reason someone would prefer it to the available alternatives. Its list of battles is slightly different than others, but I have little patience for arguing about lists.
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