Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power

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9780385720380: Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power

Examining nine landmark battles from ancient to modern times--from Salamis, where outnumbered Greeks devastated the slave army of Xerxes, to Cortes’s conquest of Mexico to the Tet offensive--Victor Davis Hanson explains why the armies of the West have been the most lethal and effective of any fighting forces in the world.

Looking beyond popular explanations such as geography or superior technology, Hanson argues that it is in fact Western culture and values–the tradition of dissent, the value placed on inventiveness and adaptation, the concept of citizenship–which have consistently produced superior arms and soldiers. Offering riveting battle narratives and a balanced perspective that avoids simple triumphalism, Carnage and Culture demonstrates how armies cannot be separated from the cultures that produce them and explains why an army produced by a free culture will always have the advantage.

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Review:

Many theories have been offered regarding why Western culture has spread so successfully across the world, with arguments ranging from genetics to superior technology to the creation of enlightened economic, moral, and political systems. In Carnage and Culture, military historian Victor Hanson takes all of these factors into account in making a bold, and sure to be controversial, argument: Westerners are more effective killers. Focusing specifically on military power rather than the nature of Western civilization in general, Hanson views war as the ultimate reflection of a society's character: "There is...a cultural crystallization in battle, in which the insidious and more subtle institutions that heretofore are murky and undefined became stark and unforgiving in the finality of organized killing."

Though technological advances and superior weapons have certainly played a role in Western military dominance, Hanson posits that cultural distinctions are the most significant factors. By bringing personal freedom, discipline, and organization to the battlefield, powerful "marching democracies" were more apt to defeat non-Western nations hampered by unstable governments, limited funding, and intolerance of open discussion. These crucial differences often ensured victory even against long odds. Greek armies, for instance, who elected their own generals and freely debated strategy were able to win wars even when far outnumbered and deep within enemy territory. Hanson further argues that granting warriors control of their own destinies results in the kind of glorification of horrific hand-to-hand combat necessary for true domination.

The nine battles Hanson examines include the Greek naval victory against the Persians at Salamis in 480 B.C., Cortes's march on Mexico City in 1521, the battle of Midway in 1942, and the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam. In the book's fascinating final chapter, he then looks forward and ponders the consequences of a complete cultural victory, challenging the widespread belief that democratic nations do not wage war against one another: "We may well be all Westerners in the millennium to come, and that could be a very dangerous thing indeed," he writes. It seems the West will always seek an enemy, even if it must come from within. --Shawn Carkonen

From the Back Cover:

“Vivid . . . ambitious . . . Challenges readers to broaden their horizons and examine their assumptions. . . . [Hanson] more than makes his case.”--The New York Times Book Review

“No one offers a more compelling picture of how wars reflect and affect the societies, including our own, that wage them.” —National Review

“Hanson . . . is becoming one of the best-known historians in America . . . [Carnage and Culture] can only enhance his reputation.” —John Keegan, Daily Telegraph (London)

“Victor Davis Hanson is courting controversy again with another highly readable, lucid work. Together with John Keegan, he is our most interesting historian of war.” —Jean Bethke Elshtain, author of Women and War

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Hanson, Victor D.
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Descrizione libro Anchor. 1 Paperback(s), 2001. soft. Condizione libro: New. Examining nine landmark battles spanning ancient and modern times—from Salamis, where outnumbered Greeks devastated the slave army of Xerxes, to Cortes's conquest of Mexico, and the Tet offensive in Vietnam—military and classical historian Victor Davis Hanson explains why the armies of the West have been, overall, the most lethal and effective fighting forces in the world. Looking beyond such popular explanations as geography or superior technology, Hanson argues that it is in fact Western culture and values—the tradition of dissent, the premium placed on inventiveness and adaptability, the concept of citizenship—that have led to the production of superior arms and soldiers. With riveting battle narratives and a balanced perspective that avoids simple triumphalism, Hanson demonstrates how armies cannot be separated from the cultures that produce them, and explains why the army of a free culture tends to have the advantage."How is the worldwide triumph of Western economic theories, political ideologies, and even cultural values over the past five centuries explained? A century ago, the now-discarded view attributed Western superiority to racial and religious factors. Current views tend to stress geographic and other environmental factors, such as the presence of debilitating, parasitic diseases in tropical regions. Of course, both views ignore the fact that, in most cases, Western control and influence began as a result of superiority in the art of killing. Hanson, a military historian and professor of classics at California State University in Fresno, examines key battles, from the Greek defeat of the Persians at Salamis to the American ravaging of the Japanese fleet at Midway. He sees a consistent thread in which Western military tactics and strategies utilized a unique combination of individual initiative meshed with group discipline. Of course, Hanson acknowledges frequent Western technological superiority, but he asserts that was not a consistently decisive element."—Booklist 506. Codice libro della libreria 70304

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Descrizione libro Anchor Books 8/27/2002, 2002. Paperback or Softback. Condizione libro: New. Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power. Book. Codice libro della libreria BBS-9780385720380

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Descrizione libro Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2002. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Anchor Books.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Examining nine landmark battles from ancient to modern times--from Salamis, where outnumbered Greeks devastated the slave army of Xerxes, to Cortes s conquest of Mexico to the Tet offensive--Victor Davis Hanson explains why the armies of the West have been the most lethal and effective of any fighting forces in the world. Looking beyond popular explanations such as geography or superior technology, Hanson argues that it is in fact Western culture and values-the tradition of dissent, the value placed on inventiveness and adaptation, the concept of citizenship-which have consistently produced superior arms and soldiers. Offering riveting battle narratives and a balanced perspective that avoids simple triumphalism, Carnage and Culture demonstrates how armies cannot be separated from the cultures that produce them and explains why an army produced by a free culture will always have the advantage. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780385720380

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Victor Davis Hanson
Editore: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States (2002)
ISBN 10: 0385720386 ISBN 13: 9780385720380
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Descrizione libro Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc, United States, 2002. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Anchor Books.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Examining nine landmark battles from ancient to modern times--from Salamis, where outnumbered Greeks devastated the slave army of Xerxes, to Cortes s conquest of Mexico to the Tet offensive--Victor Davis Hanson explains why the armies of the West have been the most lethal and effective of any fighting forces in the world. Looking beyond popular explanations such as geography or superior technology, Hanson argues that it is in fact Western culture and values-the tradition of dissent, the value placed on inventiveness and adaptation, the concept of citizenship-which have consistently produced superior arms and soldiers. Offering riveting battle narratives and a balanced perspective that avoids simple triumphalism, Carnage and Culture demonstrates how armies cannot be separated from the cultures that produce them and explains why an army produced by a free culture will always have the advantage. Codice libro della libreria ABZ9780385720380

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