Ripples of Battle
How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think
By Victor Hanson
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780385721943, 304pp.)
Publication Date: October 12, 2004
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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.
Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian who is a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno. He has written several scholarly and popular books on ancient history and classical warfare, including The Other Greeks, The Western Way of War, and The Soul of Battle. He lives in Selma, California.
“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