Gods of War: History’s Greatest Military Rivals

James Lacey and Williamson Murray. Bantam, $32 (416p) ISBN 978-0-345-54755-2
Military historians Lacey and Murray follow Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World with a stylish and intriguing survey of showdowns between “military geniuses” from the Second Punic War in 218 BCE to the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. The authors’ six case studies feature Hannibal vs. Scipio; Julius Caesar vs. Pompey; Richard I vs. Saladin; Napoleon Bonaparte vs. the Duke of Wellington; Ulysses S. Grant vs. Robert E. Lee; and George S. Patton and Bernard Montgomery vs. Edwin Rommel. In addition to examining the personalities and tactics of each commander, Lacey and Murray trace the historical evolution of combat, arguing that after the Industrial Revolution, wars could no longer be won with a single decisive battle, but became “a matter of assembling the greatest amount of resources and putting together an effective alliance system to overwhelm one’s opponents.” Their brisk recaps of the Battle of Arsuf in the Third Crusade, the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, and Grant’s Overland Campaign in the Civil War, among other clashes, include colorful details and memorable quotations from the outsize personalities involved. Though the general vs. general structure has been used before, Lacey and Murray deliver a fresh take on the formula. Military history buffs will be enthralled. (May)
Reviewed on : 02/20/2020
Release date: 05/19/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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