Heroes and Villains: Inside the Minds of the Greatest Warriors in History

Overview

In the history of warfare, an elite group of men have attained legendary status through their courage, ambition, and unrivaled military genius. But many of these same men possessed deep personal character flaws. How did these mortal men rise to positions of seemingly invincible power? What were the motives, the personal strength, or more often weaknesses, that drove them to achieve what no one else dared?

In six powerful portraits, McLynn brilliantly evokes the critical moments ...

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Overview

In the history of warfare, an elite group of men have attained legendary status through their courage, ambition, and unrivaled military genius. But many of these same men possessed deep personal character flaws. How did these mortal men rise to positions of seemingly invincible power? What were the motives, the personal strength, or more often weaknesses, that drove them to achieve what no one else dared?

In six powerful portraits, McLynn brilliantly evokes the critical moments when each of these warriors proved his mettle in battle, changing their own lives, the destiny of their people, and in some cases, the history of the world. We discover what drove Spartacus to take on the might of Rome against seemingly impossible odds, and how the young Napoleon rose to power in dramatic fashion at the Siege of Toulon. Heroes and Villains is more than a collection of individual biographies. By examining the complex psychologies of these extraordinary men, McLynn builds up a convincing profile of the ultimate warrior.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“Starred Review: A popular biographer of subjects as diverse as Carl Jung and Emiliano Zapata, McLynn here profiles six sharply contrasting figures: Spartacus, Attila the Hun, Hernán Cortés, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Napoléon Bonaparte, and King Richard the Lionheart.
The psychology of each of the six becomes McLynn’s focus, with their military acumen brought forth as evidence of what motivated them. McLynn is a lively discussant of these captains.”
Kirkus Reviews
Intelligent but abridged lives of six accomplished military leaders. Despite the subtitle, prolific historian McLynn (Richard and John: Kings at War, 2007, etc.) does not get inside the minds of his subjects-Spartacus, Attila the Hun, Richard the Lionheart, Cortes, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and Napoleon-but his meticulous, opinionated writing will satisfy readers who take their history seriously. Napoleon and Spartacus were the only brilliant tacticians. Attila, Richard and Ieyasu were pugnacious national leaders, and Cortes was a brutally ambitious adventurer. McLynn delivers cradle-to-grave biographies but deals mostly with their campaigns, which vividly illustrate Carl von Clausewitz's dictum that war is politics carried out by other means. In the absence of politics, war is futile-Rome refused to negotiate with Spartacus, so his victories gained nothing. Attila, Richard and Cortes foolishly believed that fighting was an end in itself, so they fell victim to more sophisticated rivals. Ieyasu, a mediocre general, employed guile and compromise to solidify his victories and then to maintain his power. He was the sole warrior to die peacefully in bed, and his Tokugawa shogunate ruled a stable Japan for 250 years. The most intellectual of the six, Napoleon was also the only leader never threatened by internal rivalries, but his naive political dealings with Britain and Russia led to catastrophe. McLynn strains mightily to find a common thread, finally admitting that it doesn't exist. Great conquerors turn out to be a mixed bunch with wildly disparate motives, personalities and levels of intelligence. All became historical superstars by crushing opponents on the battlefield, but this turned outto be the easy part-a lesson we are still learning. The book lacks a coherent theme, but the biographies are a cut above popular middlebrow history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605980935
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 6/19/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 800,858
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.74 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank McLynn has over twenty books to his name, including his acclaimed biographies of Napoleon and Richard the Lionhearted. His other books include Richard and John: Kings at War; Villa and Zapata; 1066; Heroes & Villains; and Napoleon: A Biography. McLynn is a graduate of Oxford and London University. He lives in London.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The greatest warriors in history 7

1 Spartacus: The gladiator who brought Rome to its knees 11

2 Attila the Hun: The Mafioso-warrior 65

3 Richard the Lionheart: England's greatest warrior-king 121

4 Cortés: The renegade Conquistador 175

5 Tokugawa Ieyasu: Japan's legendary Shogun 229

6 Napoleon: The master tactician and military genius 279

The Warrior Mind: The psychology of the warriors 329

Select Bibliography 366

Index 370

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