- Use promo code PRIMEBOOKS18 to save $5.00 when you spend $20.00 or more on Books offered by Amazon.com. Enter code PRIMEBOOKS18 at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)
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 mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Ripples of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think Paperback – October 12, 2004
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Special offers and product promotions
“What [Hanson] brings to the public discussion–along with an unusually vigorous prose style and a remarkable erudition–is a philosophy of war not meant for the weak—kneed or faint—hearted. Hanson does not celebrate war, but he accepts it as a fact of life, a part of the human condition that no amount of idealistic preaching or good intentions can will away.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Victor Davis Hanson is refreshingly unabashed about being an old-fashioned military historian . . . [and] he displays an exceptional chronological sweep.” --The Washington Post Book World
“What’s most impressive about Hanson’s work is his constant reminder that history is not just a faceless story of economic and social progress, but also one about the strength of individuals, brought to life here in masterly prose.” --The Christian Science Monitor
“His premise is fascinating and well executed. . . . A great little book. . . . Hanson is a superb storyteller and a clear and concise writer.” --The Washington Times
From the Inside Flap
The effects of war refuse to remain local: they persist through the centuries, sometimes in unlikely ways far removed from the military arena. In Ripples of Battle, the acclaimed historian Victor Davis Hanson weaves wide-ranging military and cultural history with his unparalleled gift for battle narrative as he illuminates the centrality of war in the human experience.
The Athenian defeat at Delium in 424 BC brought tactical innovations to infantry fighting; it also assured the influence of the philosophy of Socrates, who fought well in the battle. Nearly twenty-three hundred years later, the carnage at Shiloh and the death of the brilliant Southern strategist Albert Sidney Johnson inspired a sense of fateful tragedy that would endure and stymie Southern culture for decades. The Northern victory would also bolster the reputation of William Tecumseh Sherman, and inspire Lew Wallace to pen the classic Ben Hur. And, perhaps most resonant for our time, the agony of Okinawa spurred the Japanese toward state-sanctioned suicide missions, a tactic so uncompromising and subversive, it haunts our view of non-Western combatants to this day.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This is the first book I've read by Victor Davis Hanson, but it certainly won't be my last.
Human history would have been very different had the Greek philosopher Socrates been killed at the otherwise obscure Battle of Delium in 424 BC. At the time, Socrates' most profound thinking was yet to come and Plato was only a child. If Socrates had fallen along with hundreds of other Athenians, "the entire course of Western philosophical and political thought would have been radically altered" (216).
The Battle of Shiloh was likewise a crack in time. Among other things, the fighting changed William Tecumseh Sherman from a failure to a hero and taught him that it was far less costly to wage war against civilian infrastructure than to fight a pitched battle against a modern army. The March to the Sea began with the hard lessons that Sherman learned at Shiloh.
And at Okinawa, America learned how difficult it would be to force Japan to surrender, enduring fanatical resistance and suicidal attacks that cost the lives of thousands Americans and tens of thousands of Japanese. Hanson argues that the experience yielded a cold American resolve and a willingness to use atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Whether you agree with Hanson's conclusions or not, the journey is worth the price of admission. History is often written is if key outcomes were inevitable, as if Socrates were ordained to lay the foundations of western philosphy or the north were bound to win the Civil War. But history is contingent, and the only way to fully appreciate the significance of a given occurrence--especially the "near run things" that crop up in battle--is to think about what might have happened if the event had turned out differently. In this respect, Hanson's book bears a kinship to the "What If? series of essay collections--in fact, Hanson's original essays on Delium and the fate of Lew Wallace after Shiloh can be found in those books.
Of course, the biggest ripples that flow from these battles might be those that remain unseen. We know that Socrates did not die at Delium and that the intellectual world as we know it depended on his survival--but we don't know whether Delium, or Shiloh, or Okinawa or any other event or battle ended the lives of other geniuses who might have changed history, for better or worse. Those imponderables are left to more speculative works than this.
Most recent customer reviews
Aggravating trying to read.Read more