Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome

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Overview

In this prequel to the now-classic Makers of Modern Strategy, Victor Davis Hanson, a leading scholar of ancient military history, gathers prominent thinkers to explore key facets of warfare, strategy, and foreign policy in the Greco-Roman world. From the Persian Wars to the final defense of the Roman Empire, Makers of Ancient Strategy demonstrates that the military thinking and policies of the ancient Greeks and Romans remain surprisingly relevant for understanding conflict in the modern world.

The book reveals that much of the organized violence witnessed today—such as counterterrorism, urban fighting, insurgencies, preemptive war, and ethnic cleansing—has ample precedent in the classical era. The book examines the preemption and unilateralism used to instill democracy during Epaminondas's great invasion of the Peloponnesus in 369 BC, as well as the counterinsurgency and terrorism that characterized Rome's battles with insurgents such as Spartacus, Mithridates, and the Cilician pirates. The collection looks at the urban warfare that became increasingly common as more battles were fought within city walls, and follows the careful tactical strategies of statesmen as diverse as Pericles, Demosthenes, Alexander, Pyrrhus, Caesar, and Augustus. Makers of Ancient Strategy shows how Greco-Roman history sheds light on wars of every age. In addition to the editor, the contributors are David L. Berkey, Adrian Goldsworthy, Peter J. Heather, Tom Holland, Donald Kagan, John W. I. Lee, Susan Mattern, Barry Strauss, and Ian Worthington.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Times
Mr. Hanson's examination of the dangers implicit in pre-emptive warfare is riveting, as is John W.I. Lee's explanation of why the specter of urban warfare was as despised by ancient strategists as it is today by modern warriors. . . . Mr. Hanson and Mr. Luttwak have begun the serious study of what the ancients might have to teach us about a world where traditional nation-states not only have to coexist with armed non-state actors but must negotiate with them on nearly equal terms or sometimes fight them.
— Gary Anderson
Sacramento Book Review
This is a worthy edition to the literature of military history.
— Kevin Winter
Washington Times
Mr. Hanson's examination of the dangers implicit in pre-emptive warfare is riveting, as is John W.I. Lee's explanation of why the specter of urban warfare was as despised by ancient strategists as it is today by modern warriors. . . . Mr. Hanson and Mr. Luttwak have begun the serious study of what the ancients might have to teach us about a world where traditional nation-states not only have to coexist with armed non-state actors but must negotiate with them on nearly equal terms or sometimes fight them.
— Gary Anderson
Sacramento Book Review
This is a worthy edition to the literature of military history.
— Kevin Winter
Acto Philogica Fennica
The book is a worthwhile read and some of the articles would do well as reading material on courses of ancient warfare or even modern strategic studies.
— Joonas Sipila
Sunday Telegraph
At every point throughout this superb collection of essays, one cannot but reflect on Western engagements in far-off, alien places.
— Peter Jones
Choice
The essays are all thought provoking, and readers will find surprises, insights, and things to argue about.
American Spectator
Coming up for air after a couple of hours with this recent Victor Davis Hanson book, I switched on CNN and was briefly confused as to what century it was. Did his point on the overwhelming impact of organized military force refer to Moammar Gaddafi's generals chasing down Libyan rebels or to Roman soldiers crushing a slave revolt? The parallels are striking. 'Spartacus was overmatched by the logistics, discipline and generalship of the Roman legions,' Hanson writes in his fine introduction to Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome. The Libyan rebels face the same odds today, reduced by Western media to a 'ragtag' band of fighters rapidly losing the initiative, pretty much like those of Spartacus when it all ended for him. Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a respected military historian, has assembled here ten succinct studies by academic colleagues that demonstrate, with variable persuasiveness, the 'relevance of the past to military challenges of the present.' . . . Hanson encouraged his contributors to choose a subject of special interest to them. As a result, the studies make for a diverse and refreshing collection.
— Michael Johnson
European Review of History
This exciting collection reflects a publishing as well as an academic opportunity. The publishing opportunity is that of providing a prequel to the highly successful collection, Makers of Modern Strategy, while the academic opportunity is offered by the wealth of talent available to write on the earlier period.
— Jeremy Black
Acto Philogica Fennica - Joonas Sipila
The book is a worthwhile read and some of the articles would do well as reading material on courses of ancient warfare or even modern strategic studies.
Sunday Telegraph - Peter Jones
At every point throughout this superb collection of essays, one cannot but reflect on Western engagements in far-off, alien places.
Washington Times - Gary Anderson
Mr. Hanson's examination of the dangers implicit in pre-emptive warfare is riveting, as is John W.I. Lee's explanation of why the specter of urban warfare was as despised by ancient strategists as it is today by modern warriors. . . . Mr. Hanson and Mr. Luttwak have begun the serious study of what the ancients might have to teach us about a world where traditional nation-states not only have to coexist with armed non-state actors but must negotiate with them on nearly equal terms or sometimes fight them.
Sacramento Book Review - Kevin Winter
This is a worthy edition to the literature of military history.
American Spectator - Michael Johnson
Coming up for air after a couple of hours with this recent Victor Davis Hanson book, I switched on CNN and was briefly confused as to what century it was. Did his point on the overwhelming impact of organized military force refer to Moammar Gaddafi's generals chasing down Libyan rebels or to Roman soldiers crushing a slave revolt? The parallels are striking. 'Spartacus was overmatched by the logistics, discipline and generalship of the Roman legions,' Hanson writes in his fine introduction to Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome. The Libyan rebels face the same odds today, reduced by Western media to a 'ragtag' band of fighters rapidly losing the initiative, pretty much like those of Spartacus when it all ended for him. Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a respected military historian, has assembled here ten succinct studies by academic colleagues that demonstrate, with variable persuasiveness, the 'relevance of the past to military challenges of the present.' . . . Hanson encouraged his contributors to choose a subject of special interest to them. As a result, the studies make for a diverse and refreshing collection.
European Review of History - Jeremy Black
This exciting collection reflects a publishing as well as an academic opportunity. The publishing opportunity is that of providing a prequel to the highly successful collection, Makers of Modern Strategy, while the academic opportunity is offered by the wealth of talent available to write on the earlier period.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2010 PROSE Award in Classics & Ancient History, Association of American Publishers

"The book is a worthwhile read and some of the articles would do well as reading material on courses of ancient warfare or even modern strategic studies."—Joonas Sipila, Acto Philogica Fennica

"At every point throughout this superb collection of essays, one cannot but reflect on Western engagements in far-off, alien places."—Peter Jones, Sunday Telegraph

"Mr. Hanson's examination of the dangers implicit in pre-emptive warfare is riveting, as is John W.I. Lee's explanation of why the specter of urban warfare was as despised by ancient strategists as it is today by modern warriors. . . . Mr. Hanson and Mr. Luttwak have begun the serious study of what the ancients might have to teach us about a world where traditional nation-states not only have to coexist with armed non-state actors but must negotiate with them on nearly equal terms or sometimes fight them."—Gary Anderson, Washington Times

"This is a worthy edition to the literature of military history."—Kevin Winter, Sacramento Book Review

"The essays are all thought provoking, and readers will find surprises, insights, and things to argue about."Choice

"Coming up for air after a couple of hours with this recent Victor Davis Hanson book, I switched on CNN and was briefly confused as to what century it was. Did his point on the overwhelming impact of organized military force refer to Moammar Gaddafi's generals chasing down Libyan rebels or to Roman soldiers crushing a slave revolt? The parallels are striking. 'Spartacus was overmatched by the logistics, discipline and generalship of the Roman legions,' Hanson writes in his fine introduction to Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome. The Libyan rebels face the same odds today, reduced by Western media to a 'ragtag' band of fighters rapidly losing the initiative, pretty much like those of Spartacus when it all ended for him. Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a respected military historian, has assembled here ten succinct studies by academic colleagues that demonstrate, with variable persuasiveness, the 'relevance of the past to military challenges of the present.' . . . Hanson encouraged his contributors to choose a subject of special interest to them. As a result, the studies make for a diverse and refreshing collection."—Michael Johnson, American Spectator

"This exciting collection reflects a publishing as well as an academic opportunity. The publishing opportunity is that of providing a prequel to the highly successful collection, Makers of Modern Strategy, while the academic opportunity is offered by the wealth of talent available to write on the earlier period."—Jeremy Black, European Review of History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691137902
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/21/2010
  • Pages: 265
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal. His many books include "A War Like No Other" and "Between War and Peace". He is a syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services, and is the current codirector of the group on military history and contemporary conflict at the Hoover Institution.

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Table of Contents

List of Contributors vii
Introduction: Makers of Ancient Strategy 1
From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome by Victor Davis Hanson

Chapter 1: From Persia with Love 11
Propaganda and Imperial Overreach in the Greco-Persian Wars by Tom Holland

Chapter 2: Pericles, Thucydides, and the Defense of Empire 31
by Donald Kagan

Chapter 3: Why Fortifications Endure 58
A Case Study of the Walls of Athens during the Classical Period by David L. Berkey

Chapter 4: Epaminondas the Theban and the Doctrine of Preemptive War 93
by Victor Davis Hanson

Chapter 5: Alexander the Great, Nation Building, and the Creation and Maintenance of Empire 118
by Ian Worthington

Chapter 6: Urban Warfare in the Classical Greek World 138
by John W. I. Lee

Chapter 7: Counterinsurgency and the Enemies of Rome 163
by Susan Mattern

Chapter 8: Slave Wars of Greece and Rome 185
by Barry Strauss

Chapter 9: Julius Caesar and the General as State 206
by Adrian Goldsworthy
10. Holding the Line 227
Frontier Defense and the Later Roman Empire by Peter J. Heather
Acknowledgments 247
Index 249

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