Academic journal article Military Review

Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World

Academic journal article Military Review

Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World

Article excerpt

MOMENT OF BATTLE: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World

James Lacey and Williamson Murray, Bantam Books, New York 2013, 479 pages, $30.00

IN MOMENT OF Battle, authors James Lacey and Williamson Murray tackle an interesting endeavor--to pick the 20 battles that most affected the world. The authors undertake this task to address their concern about a trend among some U.S. academic circles--namely, the belief that "wars and military and strategic history are irrelevant to the study of the past" and that great figures of history have actually played minor roles.

The authors contend "that wars and battles have had a direct and massive impact on the course of history, one that is essential to understanding the world in which we live." However, they agree that studying battles in isolation can be misleading. Readers must understand the cultural context in which a battle occurred.

In deciding which battles to include in the book, the authors have followed Edward Creasy's direction in Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. Lacey and Murray selected battles for their "long-term impact on the course of history," and not for their importance to military art. Still, Lacey and Murray concede that using their criteria forced them into the "precarious game of counterfactual history," where they had to imagine how a different outcome of a battle might have fundamentally changed the course of history. Given the number of battles throughout history, even with these criteria there is bound to be controversy in the authors' choices. However, readers will be impressed by the authors' logic and rationale. …

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