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Hannibal vs. Scipio. Grant vs. Lee. Rommel vs. Patton. The greatest battles, commanders, and rivalries of all time come to life in this engrossing guide to the geniuses of military history.
“A compelling study of military leadership.”—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom
Any meeting of genius may create sparks, but when military geniuses meet, their confrontations play out upon a vast panorama of states or civilizations at war, wielding the full destructive power of a mighty nation’s armies. Gods of War is the first single-volume, in-depth examination of the most celebrated military rivalries of all time, and of the rare, world-changing battles in which these great commanders in history matched themselves against true equals.
From Caesar and Pompey deciding the fate of the Roman Republic, to Grant and Lee battling for a year during the American Civil War, to Rommel and Montgomery and Patton meeting in battle after battle as Hitler strove for European domination, these match-ups and their corresponding strategies are among the most memorable in history.
A thrilling look into both the generals’ lives and their hardest-fought battles, Gods of War is also a thought-provoking analysis of the qualities that make a strong commander and a deep exploration of the historical context in which the contestants were required to wage war, all told with rousing narrative flair. And in a time when technology has made the potential costs of war even greater, it is a masterful look at how military strategy has evolved and what it will take for leaders to guide their nations to peace in the future.
About the Author
James Lacey is the author most recently of The Washington War: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Politics of Power That Won World War II and The First Clash: The Miraculous Greek Victory at Marathon and Its Impact on Western Civilization, as well as co-author with Williamson Murray of Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World. He is a widely published defense analyst who has written extensively on the war in Iraq and the global war on terrorism. He served more than a dozen years on active duty as an infantry officer. Lacey traveled with the 101st Airborne Division during the Iraq invasion as an embedded journalist for Time magazine, and his work has also appeared in National Review, Foreign Affairs, the Journal of Military History, and many other publications. He currently teaches at the Marine Corps War College and lives in Virginia.
Williamson Murray is the author of a wide selection of articles and books, including, with Allan Millett, the acclaimed A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War. He is professor emeritus of history at Ohio State, served for five years as an officer in the United States Air Force, and has taught at the Air War College and the United States Military Academy. He has also served as a Secretary of the Navy Fellow at the Naval War College, the Centennial Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, the Matthew C. Horner Professor of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University, the Charles Lindbergh Chair at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Harold K. Johnson Professor of Military History at the Army War College, and the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Naval Heritage and History at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He is presently a defense analyst at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and teaches at the Naval War College.
“Gods of War presents an ideal pairing of famous military opponents in history, especially their complementary strengths and weaknesses and what dramatic circumstances made them face each other at decisive moments. Anyone who thinks we already know the stories and have fully read the minds of great commanders such as Napoleon and Wellington, Grant and Lee, Hannibal and Scipio, Caesar and Pompey, Richard I and Saladin, and Patton and Rommel, will be surprised and fascinated. Reminiscent of the classic Plutarch’s Lives from the Greeks and Romans but rightly including modern commanders, Lacey’s and Murray’s keen insights are carefully drawn from lifelong military experience and well thought-out analyses. Famous battle outcomes are thus familiar yet often novel, even in appreciation of the long and comprehensive literature of military history. The quick pace but panoramic view hold our attention rapt.”—Patrick Hunt, author of Hannibal and Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History
“This compelling study of military leadership analyzes history’s most prominent generals, who fought each other in major campaigns and battles dating from the third century B.C. to World War II. In a key finding, the operational and tactical brilliance of such commanders as Hannibal, Napoleon, Robert E. Lee, and Erwin Rommel could not overcome their strategic failures in confrontations with Scipio, Wellington, Grant, or the Allied commanders in the 1940s, who had a better grasp of strategy.”—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
“A stylish and intriguing survey of showdowns between ‘military geniuses’ . . . Brisk recaps of the Battle of Arsuf in the Third Crusade, the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, and Grant’s Overland Campaign in the Civil War, among other clashes, include colorful details and memorable quotations from the outsize personalities involved. . . . Military history buffs will be enthralled.”—Publishers Weekly
“[An] expert mixture of lively nuts-and-bolts descriptions of combat and opinions on why some legendary generals won their wars and others did not.”—Kirkus Reviews