- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (June 17, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393323161
- ISBN-13: 978-0393323160
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From Publishers Weekly
Alexander ( Korea: The First War We Lost ) reveals how some of the great military men of history applied common-sense principles of warfare that "nearly always will secure victory." Relying on deception, these generals usually won their campaigns with a surprise attack on the enemy's rear or flank. Leaving aside the killed-and-wounded advantage of such maneuvers, Alexander emphasizes the decisive psychological effect on enemy soldiers and their commanders. Generals whose deceptive, indirect, surprise tactics are considered here include Scipio Africanus ("The General Who Beat Hannibal"), Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, Stonewall Jackson, William Tecumseh Sherman ("The General Who Won the Civil War"), Mao Zedong, Erwin Rommel and Douglas MacArthur. Alexander makes the interesting point that these principles are for the most part self-evident, yet most generals ignore them in favor of the direct frontal assault. He is surprisingly critical of the Confederacy's icon, Robert E. Lee, for his tendency to resort to direct (and costly) methods such as Pickett's charge at Gettysburg. He calls MacArthur "a military Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, capable of both brilliant strategic insight and desolating error." This study is essential reading for students of military strategy and tactics.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
An astute military historian's mildly contrarian appraisal of what separates the sheep from the wolves in the great game of war. Arguing that von Clausewitz's thoughts about the bloody solution of battle have been misread over the years, Alexander (Lost Victories, 1992, etc.) asserts that the principal purpose of armed conflict is to reduce the possibility of an enemy's resistance (a view the author shares with Sun Tzu). Alexander then ranges back and forth through time to identify and comment upon commanders who were able, in the words of Stonewall Jackson, to ``mystify, mislead, and surprise'' their foes. Among those who measure up are Scipio Africanus (who bested Hannibal); Napoleon (who, in 1797, conquered northern Italy through innovative techniques); Sherman (whose march to the sea broke the South's will during the Civil War); Subedai (whose Mongol hordes sacked Buda and Pest during the mid-13th century), and MacArthur (whose daring Inchon assault turned the tide of the Korean War). Covered as well are the bold WW I campaigns mounted by Allenby and Lawrence in the Middle East; Mao's defeat of the Kuomintang; and the nervy genius of three top generals whose misfortune it was to serve Nazi Germany--Guderian, Rommel, and von Manstein. A merciless critic of annihilative, brute-force engagements (of the sort he witnessed as a US Army officer in Korea), Alexander makes a persuasive case for great captains who achieve their strategic ends via maneuver, stealth, guile, or a willingness to defy conventional wisdom. The author's analysis suggests that the doctrines that guide professional soldiers (be they Roman legionnaires or Norman Schwarzkopfs) have remained notably constant for more than two millennia. Informed opinions on the martial arts that draw provocative distinctions between victors and winners. (Maps--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Top customer reviews
achieving such success it even made Hitler nervous. MacArthur went against all the common wisdom and invdade Korea at Inchon, slashing through the overextended North Korean supply lines to cut off their frontline troops at the Pusan Perimeter.
Napoleon in his early years specialized in another approach: maneuvering around to attack at the rear.
Sherman followed another strategy in advancing from Atlanta, sending out several columns, each threatening more than one city, then struck unexpectedly at an undefended target.
These and other strategies and how they have been used by military leaders from Genghis Khan to Mao to Rommel to Allenby are examined in this very interesting book and summarized in a helpful final chapter.
Second, the content itself is quite scant. Despite having "Great Generals" in the title it fails to mention two of the greatest commanders in history, Gustavus Adolphus (founder of the modern army system) and Friedrich II "the Great". It skips right from Mongols to Napoleon. No mention of Crecy, Agincourt, Orleans; the wars of the Ottomans; Capture of Constantinople; Siege of Vienna; Turenne, Eugene of Savoy, Jan Sobieski; etc etc etc
A scant book that isn't worth buying because all the info is basic and could be found by reading a wikipedia article on the battle.