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

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

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

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


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.


Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, edited by Peter Paret, appeared as a 941-page volume comprising twenty-eight essays, with topics ranging from the sixteenth century to the 1980s. The work was published by Princeton University Press in 1986, as the cold war was drawing to a close. Paret's massive anthology itself updated and expanded upon the classic inaugural Princeton volume of twenty essays, Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler, edited by Edward M. Earle. The smaller, earlier book had appeared more than forty years before the second, in 1943, in the midst of the Second World War. It focused on individual military theorists and generals; hence the personalized title, “Makers.”

Although the theme of both books remained the relevance of the past to military challenges of the present, the 1986 sequel dealt more with American concerns. Its chapters were built not so much around individuals as on larger strategic themes and historical periods. Although both the editors and the authors of these two books by intent did not always explicitly connect their contributions to the ordeals of their times, the Second World War and the cold war are unavoidable presences in the background. Both books cautioned against assuming that the radical changes in war making of their respective ages were signs that the nature of conflict had also changed.

On the contrary, the two works served as reminders that the history of both the immediate and more distant past deals with the same concerns . . .

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