Patrick Porter Military Orientalism

ISBN 13: 9781850659594

Military Orientalism

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9781850659594: Military Orientalism

Westerners have long fetishized the idea of "Oriental" warfare, hoping to either emulate the strategies of foreign armies or assimilate members of Eastern and "martial races," such as Sikhs or Gurkhas, into their ranks. Samurai warriors, obedient to an ancient code of chivalry and honor, and the Mongol hordes thundering across the steppe-these exotic visions have thrilled Western imaginations for centuries. Yet, at the same time, today's Eastern warriors, such as the Taliban and Hezbollah, are treated with skepticism, and their success is acknowledged only grudgingly in the West. These contradictory positions throw into question the romantic notion that race, culture, and tradition determines how armies fight.

Military Orientalism argues against the idea that culture dictates the strategy of war. Culture is powerful, Patrick Porter asserts, but it encompasses an ambiguous repertoire of ideas rather than a clear code of action. To divide the world into Western, Asiatic, or Islamic ways of war is a misconception, one that profoundly impacts our approach to present and future conflicts, especially the "War on Terror." Porter also emphasizes the danger of fetishizing the exotic, which complicates a more accurate understanding of the enemy. Launching a rare investigation into the history of this trend as it has appeared in the work of Herodotus and numerous other fictional and nonfictional narratives, Porter strikes at the heart of the fear, envy, and wonder inspired by the Oriental warrior.

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About the Author:

Patrick Porter is a lecturer in the Defense Studies Department at the British Defense Academy, King's College, University of London.

Review:

Military Orientalism seeks to expose the perils of using culture as a means to understanding war, whether it unfolds in the East or (implicitly) closer to home. It is a rich and wide-ranging text that displays a depth of historical reading to good effect and is beautifully written.

(Daniel Neep, University of Exeter)

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Patrick Porter
Published by C Hurst Co Publishers Ltd, United Kingdom (2009)
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Book Description C Hurst Co Publishers Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the Ancient Greeks obsession with the armies of the Persians, Westerners have been irresistibly drawn to the exotic nature of Oriental warfare and have sought either to emulate their enemies imagined ways of fighting or to incorporate Eastern warriors and martial races , such as the Sikhs and Gurkhas, in their own forces. The alluring yet terrifying prospect of Samurai warriors, obedient to an ancient code of chivalry, or of the Mongol cavalry thundering across the steppes, continue to grip our imagination, while the courage and fighting prowess of today s Eastern warriors, the Taliban and Hezbollah, have been grudgingly acknowledged by the hightech armies of NATO in Afghanistan and the IDF in Lebanon. Such romantic notions are based on a highly questionable premise, namely that race, culture and tradition are separate and primordial, and that they determine how societies fight. But how far does culture shape war? Do non-Westerners approach strategy, combat, or death in ways intrinsically different from their Eastern neighbours? This debate can be tracked through time, from Herodotus onwards, and features in innumerable histories and literary works as well as in poetry, art and oral epics. Yet there are few histories of the idea itself. Military Orientalism argues that viewing culture as a script that dictates warfare is wrong, and that our obsession with the exotic can make it harder, not easier, to know the enemy. Culture is powerful, but it is an ambiguous repertoire of ideas rather than a clear code for action. To divide the world into western, Asiatic or Islamic ways of war is a delusion, one whose profound impact affects contemporary war and above all the War on Terror. Porter s fascinating book explains why the Oriental warrior inspires fear, envy and wonder and how this has shaped the way Western armies fight. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9781850659594

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Patrick Porter
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Book Description C Hurst Co Publishers Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the Ancient Greeks obsession with the armies of the Persians, Westerners have been irresistibly drawn to the exotic nature of Oriental warfare and have sought either to emulate their enemies imagined ways of fighting or to incorporate Eastern warriors and martial races , such as the Sikhs and Gurkhas, in their own forces. The alluring yet terrifying prospect of Samurai warriors, obedient to an ancient code of chivalry, or of the Mongol cavalry thundering across the steppes, continue to grip our imagination, while the courage and fighting prowess of today s Eastern warriors, the Taliban and Hezbollah, have been grudgingly acknowledged by the hightech armies of NATO in Afghanistan and the IDF in Lebanon. Such romantic notions are based on a highly questionable premise, namely that race, culture and tradition are separate and primordial, and that they determine how societies fight. But how far does culture shape war? Do non-Westerners approach strategy, combat, or death in ways intrinsically different from their Eastern neighbours? This debate can be tracked through time, from Herodotus onwards, and features in innumerable histories and literary works as well as in poetry, art and oral epics. Yet there are few histories of the idea itself. Military Orientalism argues that viewing culture as a script that dictates warfare is wrong, and that our obsession with the exotic can make it harder, not easier, to know the enemy. Culture is powerful, but it is an ambiguous repertoire of ideas rather than a clear code for action. To divide the world into western, Asiatic or Islamic ways of war is a delusion, one whose profound impact affects contemporary war and above all the War on Terror. Porter s fascinating book explains why the Oriental warrior inspires fear, envy and wonder and how this has shaped the way Western armies fight. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9781850659594

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