November 14th 2009

  Buy Issue 2816

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Why Australians should oppose a human rights charter

CANBERRA OBSERVED: The Rudd Government's asylum-seeker dilemma

EDITORIAL: Emissions trading scheme in trouble

CLIMATE CHANGE: Rudd's ETS will hit country towns hardest

ECONOMICS: Rising interest rates create speculative bubble

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Will SA be the first state to legalise euthanasia?

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Australia's crude Fiji sanctions policy backfires

BRAZIL: Lula's infatuation with tyrants and mass-murderers

OVERSEAS AID: Exporting death in our overseas 'aid'

ASIA: Taiwan's modified UN bid prospects rated as 'good'

EDUCATION: A destructive doctrine called 'diversity'

SCIENCE: Can computer games harm children's brains?

OPINION: Why I lost faith in the Left

Australian aid to China (letter)

Rags-to-riches story (letter)

Kokoda and Japan (letter)

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Western nations must prepare for cyber attacks; The tyranny of unelected 'experts'; School reform that works.

BOOK REVIEW: OUT FROM UNDER: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting, by Dawn Stefanowicz

BOOK REVIEW: THE ART OF WAR: Great Commanders of the Ancient, Medieval and Modern World, Andrew Roberts

Books promotion page

THE ART OF WAR: Great Commanders of the Ancient, Medieval and Modern World, Andrew Roberts

News Weekly, November 14, 2009

Great military leaders examined

Great Commanders of the Ancient and Medieval World, 1600 BC - AD 1600

edited by Andrew Roberts
(London: Quercus Publishing)
Hardcover: 432 pages
ISBN: 9781847242594
Rec. price: AUD$75.00

Great Commanders of the Modern World since 1600

edited by Andrew Roberts
(London: Quercus Publishing)
Hardcover: 447 pages
ISBN: 9780681876071
Rec. price: AUD$75.00

Reviewed by Michael Daniel

For many Australians, the great military leaders from both world wars are household names. These two anthologies examine the careers and impact of some of the greatest military leaders throughout recorded history. Each commander's biography is approximately eight pages and analyses at least one major battle fought by him.

Most of the studies are written by historical experts with specialist knowledge of their respective subjects. For example, Adrian Goldsworthy, author of the recent definitive biography of Julius Caesar, wrote the articles on Julius Caesar, Pompey, Trajan and Scipio Africanus. Antonia Fraser, a biographer of Oliver Cromwell, contributed the section on Cromwell. Some of the other studies - such as that of Field Marshal William Slim of Burma, who commanded British troops in seminal battles for the re-conquest of Burma and later served as governor-general of Australia - were written by relatives.

Most of the commanders included are historically significant ones you would expect in anthologies of this type - commanders such as Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, Joan of Arc, Ulysses Grant, Bernard Montgomery and Douglas MacArthur, to name just a few, in addition to those already mentioned.

Interestingly, George Washington is not included. Instead, Nathanael Greene's contribution to the American War of Independence is examined.

However, the absence of another significant leader, Field Marshal Douglas Haig, commander of the British and Imperial forces in World War I, does not seem to be accidental, particularly since many hold his poor leadership responsible for the huge numbers of unnecessary casualties.

Some controversial military commanders - such as Britain's General James Wolfe, who was victorious over the French in Canada in 1759 - have been glossed over in modern textbooks for reasons of political correctness, but are included in this anthology.

Other controversial figures are also given balanced coverage. For example, in the past, Oliver Cromwell has often enjoyed an undeserved heroic status thanks to certain biographies which have been little more than uncritical hagiographies of him. In The Art of War, his life is subjected to a proper dispassionate scrutiny of his deeds, with his massacres in places such as Drogheda in his Irish campaigns gravely detracting from his reputation as leader of the parliamentary forces in the Civil War.

Both volumes of The Art of War are beautifully presented, with extensive illustrations and diagrams. They are the sorts of works that one would not necessarily read from cover to cover, but rather would dip into to read selected biographies.

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