The Anatomy of Error: Ancient Military Disasters and Their Lessons for Modern Strategists

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9780312076283: The Anatomy of Error: Ancient Military Disasters and Their Lessons for Modern Strategists
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Presents the flawed strategies of eight military leaders including Mark Antony, Hannibal, and Jugurtha

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Two more books of military history written for general audiences. Strauss and Ober discuss strategic failure in the classical world in terms of defeated generals and political leaders from Xerxes of Persia to Julian the Apostate. These losers share a common incapacity to consider and overcome unexamined assumptions about themselves and their enemies, say the authors. But the authors go on to defend good decision-making in relentlessly Clausewitzian terms that overlook the essential differences between the state systems of 19th-century Europe and the ancient Mediterranean. Such presentmindedness is unlikely to liberate the study of ancient history from its specialist ghetto. Karl proposes to describe situations from Thermopylae to Dien Bien Phu in which "an elite unit of soldiers stands to the last men with little hope of victory." His definition of "elite" is extremely broad. The mixed bag of Germans and other Europeans that defended Berlin in 1945 hardly qualifies as an elite in the sense of the Theban Sacred Band. Moreover, instead of concentrating on the composition, motivation, and behavior of these doomed units, Karl writes generalized campaign history, with the last stand itself sometimes dismissed in a few paragraphs. The Anatomy of Error is flawed by a restrictive analytic structure; Glorious Defiance fails to progress beyond descriptive narrative. Neither can be recommended except as supplements for large collections.
- Dennis Showalter, Colorado Coll., Colorado Springs
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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This survey discusses strategic failure in the classical world in terms of defeated generals and political leaders.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Publisher: St Martins Pr, 1990
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