SUN TZU AT GETTYSBURG: Ancient Military Wisdom in the Modern World

By Baillergeon, Rick | Military Review, November/December 2011 | Go to article overview

SUN TZU AT GETTYSBURG: Ancient Military Wisdom in the Modern World


Baillergeon, Rick, Military Review


SUN TZU AT GETTYSBURG: Ancient Military Wisdom in the Modern World, Bevin Alexander, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 2011, 304 pages, $26.95.

The wisdom of Sun Tzu and The Art of War is frequently quoted in military readings throughout the Western world. In recent years, the maxims of the "Great Master" have made their way into the civilian sector, spawning numerous Sun Tzu books and blogs, some extremely well-done and of great utility, others poorly planned and prepared and with little to offer.

One recent addition to the genre in the well-done category is acclaimed military historian Bevin Alexander's Sun Tzu at Gettysburg: Ancient Military Wisdom in the Modern World in which the author dissects ten significant battles and campaigns in history and focuses on the principles of Sun Tzu. As he states in his introduction, "This current volume is designed to show that commanders who unwittingly used Sun Tzu's axioms in important campaigns over the past two centuries were successful, while commanders who did not . . . suffered defeat, sometimes disastrous, war-losing calamities."

Alexander makes outstanding use of his previous body of work where he previously discussed many of the battles and campaigns (1862 Civil War campaigns, Stalingrad, Liberation of France during World War II, and Inchon). This enables him to provide readers with a concise, yet thorough understanding of each battle and campaign and sets the conditions for him to analyze each as they relate to the maxims of Sun Tzu. …

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