Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern Paperback – April 26, 2011
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The book consists of 13 chapters, which includes six reviews. The first chapter, "Why Study War?" is a perfect introduction for the reader to get a foundational understanding of Hanson's interest in war and his overall mindset. Very simply, wars are worth studying regardless of their age. Though technology and strategies will certainly change, "themes, emotions, and rhetoric remain constant over the centuries, and thus generally predictable" (p. 15). In addition, war may be horrid to consider, but is inevitable and, at times, necessary. Hanson points out that "war--or the threat of war--at least put an end to American chattel slavery, Nazism, Fascism, Japanese militarism, and Soviet Communism" (p. 16).Read more ›
Many of these essays have been previously published (or substantial parts of them) in magazines but Hanson has re-worked and amplified them. I only recognized one essay and the new version was longer and more substantive.
Hanson is a brilliant essayist - he expands the reader's point of view without talking down to him. Instead, in plain language he discusses large ideas and, happily, he includes plenty of references to other authors and other books that he has found interesting and informative. Reading Hanson is liking talking to an old friend who not only informs, he also entertains and brings along a list of fascinating books, authors and topics and quotes for you to enjoy as well.
His last essay, "How Western Wars Are Lost - and Won" is a fascinating look at the current war on terror. It builds on all of the other essays and frankly wonders if the West has what it takes to defend itself any longer: "We presently witness the absurd situation in which a lunatic Iranian regime uses it oil wealth to spin thousands of imported centrifuges to enrich uranium, while peaceful democratic Germany, where nuclear physics originate, could well be blackmailed by the threat of losing a Munich or Hamburg - despite its ability to build within a year thousands of fusion bombs as predictably lethal as a BMW or Mercedes is reliable." (p. 240)
A fascinating series of essays. Well worth your time.
Hanson argues that the essence of both man and war has remained unchanged through the centuries; that lacking a sense of deterrence, aggressors will always take advantage of their fellows; and that war should be studied by scholars for its didactic value in preparation for inevitable future conflicts. Hanson also believes that wars rarely arise over economics but rather often begin through irrational perceptions about pride and honor. (Even when Greeks fought over land, says Hanson, they--like the British and Argentines in the Falklands--usually fought over worthless land.) Finally, Hanson argues that actual warfare is unpredictable and that all sides make mistakes; the victors, he says, simply prove better at correcting their initial errors.
Although even some conservatives will have difficulty accepting Hanson's well-reasoned apologia for the American war in Iraq, his insightful reconsideration of Xenophon and his moving preface to E. B. Sledge's With the Old Breed (1981) are well worth reading.
Victor Davis Hanson is a blue collar intellectual in the vein of Eric Hoffer. He is a workingman's writer of military philosophy and history. His didactic style brings both knowledge and enlightenment to the difficult subject of war and military history. Dr. Hanson's The Father of Us All is an excellent treatise on War, what it was, what it is, and what it might become. His comparative analysis of the history of warfare is replete with many excellent bibliographic citations which buttress his insightful commentary. Dr. Hanson stresses that studying military history will help us understand all the nuances of war in its totality. The essence of war does not change, just the perception and current understanding of it. As we become technologically more efficient in war fighting capabilities, we tend to view war in a more antiseptic way as exemplified by terms like precision guidance, surgical strike, minimized collateral damage, and on and on. Military leaders like General Tecumseh Sherman would be appalled at this lack of War understanding. He, like most military leaders before him, and some after, understood that war meant to be "Hard War": Savage, brutal and in most cases complete in all that word entails. But, through the ages, man also looks at war in differing ways depending on his culture and varying philosophical views. Dr. Hanson explains this all in great detail drawing on his vast knowledge of military history.
Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, wrote , "War is the father of all and king of all." War has dominated Man and his philosophy since the beginning of time. It is eternal and an integral part of the human condition.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic, well thought out arguments for why military history should not be a niche field.Published 16 days ago by J.R. S.
Victor Davis Hanson is a great military history writer. Flows well, simply explained, and easy to understand lessons from the past, so we will better know how to proceed into the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by W. A. Church
Dad is a history freak fan, like an Encarta for these kind of books, and he loved it.Published 3 months ago by CaRiTo
An interesting collection of some of his more interesting essays on war and society . VDH fans will not be be disappointed . It's a little uneven and some , a bit dated . Read morePublished 5 months ago by GPsomas
In light of the rapidly disappearing nationstate USA and the conversion of the U.S. military into a politically correct army of community organizers, a little too much flag wavingPublished 7 months ago by Vesna Heinze
Some interesting thoughts and arguments about the role of war in modern society, but the book is really a compilation of essays and there's some repetition between them.Published 9 months ago by B. Howell
As a student of history, I am truly humbled by Mr. Hanson. The body of research and knowledge that is shared in this one work is amazing. Read morePublished 9 months ago by psychoinhell
I have other works by Hanson and was excited to read this one as well. However, this is just a compilation of essays that were put together from academic/non-academic journals,... Read morePublished 9 months ago by RKM