Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost

Michael Walsh. St. Martin’s, $28.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-21708-0
Novelist and former National Review columnist Walsh (The Fiery Angel) chronicles 17 battles fought against overwhelming odds in this bellicose account. Declaring war “a masculine engagement, undertaken on behalf of females and children—in large measure to win and protect the former and to ensure the survival of the latter,” Walsh begins with the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE, when vastly outnumbered Greek soldiers fought off Persian invaders for three days, until a traitor sold them out. The fight for the Alamo and Custer’s last stand at Little Bighorn are also discussed, as are lesser-known battles, including the clash between Germanic tribes and Roman forces at Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE, and the defeat of Sultan Suleiman’s Ottoman army at the siege of Szigetvár in 1566. Walsh interviews his father, a Marine who fought in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War, for the book’s epilogue. Memorable tidbits get overshadowed by Walsh’s strident political views (“Today, as the Christianized West enters its fully secular, post-Christian phase, it may have to revert to its pre-Christian pagan, visceral roots as it battles the religiously animated bloodlust of Islam”), and his use of thesaurus words (“pusillanimity”; “desuetude”; “syncretic”) grates. Walsh’s fans will savor the hyperbole; others will be put off by the right-wing rhetoric. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 09/23/2020
Release date: 12/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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