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Victor Davis Hanson


Subtitle: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece, Alfred Knopf, N.Y. 1989, 244 pgs., index, bibliography, chronological table


Reviewer Comments:
The Subtitle is a more accurate identification of the book content. Dr. Hanson's description of the horror of Greek phalanx combat is riveting in its detail. But he follows the false lead of John Keegan in describing this kind of combat as 'the Western Way of War' Keegan's favorite trope. So naturally Keegan has pushed his theory into an introduction. Dr. Hanson dutifully expands his subject from his description of Greek phalanx combat in the following sections by discussing this 'western way of war' in the first section. He is an expert on Classical Greece in general and Greek warfare in particular and begins his examination of this in section I, despite its title including Modern Warfare. My disappointment with the book is not about the excellent description of Greek combat based on real scholarly study but the extrapolation of this to a world wide scale from ancient times to the present without any even cursory study of warfare, for instance in ancient China or India, or any place else in modern times.




I - The Greeks and Modern Warfare


1 - Ordinary Things, Ordinary People


2 -A Western Way of War


3 - Not Strategy, Not Tactics


4 - The Hoplite and His Phalanx: War in an Agricultural Society


5 - Sources of Inquiry


II The Ordeal of the Hoplite


6 - The Burden of Hoplite Arms and Armor


7 - The Old Men


8 - The Dread of Massed Attack


III The Triumph of Will


9 - A Soldier's General


10 - Unit Spirit and Morale: The Origins of the Regimental System


11 - Drink


IV Battle


12 - The Charge


13 - A Collision of Men


14 - Tears and Gaps


15 -The Push and Collapse


16 -Confusion, Misdirection and Mob Violence


17 -The Killing Ground


18 - The Wounded


19 - Epilogue


John Keegan






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