Maverick Military Leaders: The Extraordinary Battles of Washington, Nelson, Patton, Rommel, and Others

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Overview


From the high seas at Trafalgar to the dusty battle fields of Sinai, the course of history has been changed by military mavericks who lead from the front. In the current age of backroom generals who command from far behind the front lines, it is often forgotten that wars have been won or lost by the personality and leadership of a maverick commander. Here for the first time together are the stories of the military careers of Ariel Sharon, Simon Bolivar, Robert E. Lee, Henri Gouraud, Douglas MacArthur, Horatio ...
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Overview


From the high seas at Trafalgar to the dusty battle fields of Sinai, the course of history has been changed by military mavericks who lead from the front. In the current age of backroom generals who command from far behind the front lines, it is often forgotten that wars have been won or lost by the personality and leadership of a maverick commander. Here for the first time together are the stories of the military careers of Ariel Sharon, Simon Bolivar, Robert E. Lee, Henri Gouraud, Douglas MacArthur, Horatio Nelson, Georgy Zhukov, William Slim, and many more. In sixteen riveting portraits, bestselling historian Robert Harvey (The War of Wars) explores how these lone leaders came to power, and how their unique leadership styles affected the extraordinary events of Stalingrad, Chancellorsville, Austerlitz, Messina, Junín, Yorktown, Inchon, Plassey, Imphal, Sinai, and Salamanca, among others. Explore Napoleon's reputation as an aggressive tactician, Bolivar's talent for flamboyant improvisation, and George Washington's careful and calculated patience. Discover the history behind the nicknames of "Old Blood and Guts" (Patton) and "the Desert Fox" (Rommel). Maverick Military Leaders is a definitive, one-volume account of some of history's most important and surprising battles and the commanders who won the field. 
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[...] British historian Harvey turns his attention to military leadership with modestly successful results. After listing a great laudatory biographies of 12 who fought from the mid-18th to mid 20th centuries. ”
Publishers Weekly

Author of the excellent A Few Bloody Noses: The Realities and Mythologies of the American Revolution, British historian Harvey turns his attention to military leadership with modestly successful results. After listing a great commander's qualities, Harvey delivers laudatory biographies of 12 who fought from the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries. Americans will enjoy reading of less familiar 18th-century British commanders such as Robert Clive, who triumphed against immense opposing forces to conquer huge areas of India. Thomas Cochrane won dazzling naval victories during the Napoleonic Wars and became a national hero, but offended Admiralty officials, who refused him promotions. Later chapters make for lively reading, but the author stretches too hard to portray his subjects as mavericks. Washington, Nelson, Wellington, Grant and Rommel were establishment figures in good standing, and Patton's superiors appreciated him despite his quirks. Montgomery and MacArthur made plenty of enemies, but most military experts conclude that their inflated egos had little to do with their talents, which in professional eyes (although not those of worshipful civilians) were overrated. Maps. (Jan.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Conventional study of a dozen unconventional military leaders. What makes a maverick politician? Apparently, recent history suggests, going against party leadership once or twice. What makes a maverick military leader? By former Economist assistant editor and parliamentarian Harvey's account, there are 16 desiderata, ranging from "outstanding and exemplary courage under fire" to "high intelligence, often concealed under a veneer of military bluffness, and communications skills," along with episodes of insubordination, a fondness for fighting against the odds and an improvisational character. OK: So Norman Schwarzkopf and George Meade are out. But where's George Custer? Alexander of Macedon? Georgy Zhukov? Vercingetorix? Vinegar Joe Stilwell? Most are absent because Harvey's bandwidth is narrow, confined to the period from 1757 to World War II and embracing Anglo-American (Garibaldi excepted) predictable figures such as the Duke of Wellington, Erwin Rommel and George S. Patton. Ever since Franklin J. Schaffner's 1970 film Patton, there's not much point in discussing the last two, who were famed for defying orders and doing whatever the hell they wanted to. George Washington wasn't exactly defiant when he attacked the Hessians at Trenton, though, admittedly, when in the thick of battle Admiral Nelson had a tendency to forget he had heard from the bosses. Clive of India did his thing without undue flash, even if he did suffer from moments of depression "and, rarely, displays of cruelty." James Wolfe was exceedingly brave on the Plains of Abraham-but was not Montcalm as well? Harvey's book suffers foremost from his obvious choices-only the British sea captain Thomas Cochrane is not widelyknown, save to students of the Napoleonic Wars. The narrative has the feel of being shoehorned to fit its guiding model, one that is conceptually thin to begin with. Of modest interest to students of military history. Jeremy Black's Great Military Leaders and Their Campaigns, among other recent surveys, is more satisfying.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602393561
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Harvey has been a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, assistant editor of the Economist, and a member of British Parliament. He is the author of many books, including The War of Wars; The Undefeated: The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Greater Japan; Portugal: Birth of a Democracy; Liberators; Global Disorder: America and the Threat of World Conflict; Cochrane; and Bolivar.

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