Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership

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In Masters of Command, Barry Strauss compares the way the three greatest generals of the ancient world—Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar—waged war and draws lessons from their experiences that apply on and off the battlefield.

Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar—each was a master of war. Each had to look beyond the battlefield to decide whom to fight, when, and why; to know what victory was and when to end the war; to determine how to bring stability to the lands he conquered. Each general had to be a battlefield tactician and more: a statesman, a strategist, a leader.

Tactics change, weapons change, but war itself remains much the same throughout the centuries, and a great warrior must know how to define success. Understanding where each of these three great (but flawed) commanders succeeded and failed can serve anyone who wants to think strategically or has to demonstrate leadership. In Masters of Command, Barry Strauss explains the qualities these great generals shared, the keys to their success, from ambition and judgment to leadership itself.

The result of years of research, Masters of Command is based on surviving written documents and archeological evidence as well as the author’s travels in Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, and Tunisia in the footsteps of Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar.
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About the author

Barry Strauss, professor of history and classics at Cornell University, is a leading expert on ancient military history. He has written or edited several books, including The Battle of Salamis, The Trojan War, The Spartacus War, Masters of Command, The Death of Caesar, and Ten Caesars. Visit BarryStrauss.com.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
May 1, 2012
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781439169070
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Ancient / Greece
History / Ancient / Rome
History / General
History / Military / Strategy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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 From Thermopylae to Marathon, discover the most important battles of the ancient Greek wars, which helped set the course of European history for centuries Examines the events leading up to each conflict and the social and political fallout Appraises military geniuses such as Sparta and AthensBeautifully illustrated with many rare and unpublished paintings, imagery and contemporary photographs


One of the most popular areas of ancient history is war in the Greek world. The number of books, articles, webpages and blogs on every conceivable aspect of war in ancient Greece is endless and continues to grow. So why add to the pile? 

Wars and Battles of Ancient Greece is not just another arid account of conflict with endless, often exaggerated, casualty figures and repetitive tactics. It is different from other books in the field because it has context as its focus: each of the battles covered is, where sources permit, placed in its historical, political and social context: why was the battle fought, how was it fought, what was the outcome and what happened next? 

No war or battle has ever been fought in isolation – there is always a prelude, a ‘casus belli’ – an act or event that provokes or is used to justify war – and a series of consequences. These are revealed wherever possible for each of the wars and battles in this gripping book. In order to reinforce our focus on context, Wars and Battles of Ancient Greece includes chapters covering warfare in civilisations and cultures before Greece, the Greek war machine and Greek women and conflict. 

It is a detailed survey of conflict in ancient Greece from the Mycenaean Age to the end of the Peloponnesian War, based on primary sources – mainly Herodotus, Thucydides and other historians, but also poets, dramatists and inscriptional evidence.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A compelling and provocative read . . . With a soldier’s eye, Jim Lacey re-creates the battle of Marathon in all its brutal simplicity.”—Barry Strauss, author of Masters of Command
 
Marathon—one of history’s most pivotal battles. Its name evokes images of almost superhuman courage, endurance, and fighting spirit. In this eye-opening book, military analyst James Lacey takes a fresh look at Marathon and reveals why the battle happened, how it was fought, and whether, in fact, it saved Western civilization. Lacey brilliantly reconstructs the world of the fifth century B.C. leading up to the astonishing military defeat of the Persian Empire by the vastly undermanned Greek defenders. With the kind of vivid detail that characterizes the best modern war reportage, he shows how the heavily armed Persian army was shocked and demoralized by the relentless assault of the Athenian phalanx. He reveals the fascinating aftermath of Marathon, how its fighters became the equivalent of our “Greatest Generation,” and challenges the legacy and lessons that have often been misunderstood—perhaps, now more than ever, at our own peril.
 
Immediate, visceral, and full of new analyses that defy decades of conventional wisdom, The First Clash is a superb interpretation of a conflict that indeed made the world safe for Aristotle, Plato, and our own modern democracy.
 
“With a fresh eye to tactics, strategy, and military organization, and with his text grounded in direct experience of the troops on the battlefield, James Lacey gives us not only new understanding of how the Athenians managed to win but also a greater appreciation of the beginning of a long tradition of Western military dynamism that we take for granted today.”—Victor Davis Hanson, author of Carnage and Culture
 
“Lacey’s swords-and-shields approach will absorb readers ever fascinated by the famous battles of antiquity.”—Booklist
 
“A lively and rewarding read.”—Charleston Post and Courier
 
“Exemplary . . . Lacey, a veteran of the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions and a professor at the Marine War College, brings to the tale of Marathon the practical experiences of the combat soldier and an intellectual sensibility.”—The New Criterion
Marcus Agrippa personified the term 'right-hand man'. As Emperor Augustus' deputy, he waged wars, pacified provinces, beautified Rome, and played a crucial role in laying the foundations of the Pax Romana for the next two hundred years – but he served always in the knowledge he would never rule in his own name. Why he did so, and never grasped power exclusively for himself, has perplexed historians for centuries.??In his teens he formed a life-long friendship with Julius Caesar's great nephew, Caius Octavius, which would change world history. Following Caesar's assassination on the Ides of March 44 BC, Agrippa was instrumental in asserting his friend's rights as the dictator's heir. He established a reputation as a bold admiral, defeating Sextus Pompeius at Mylae and Naulochus (36 BC), culminating in the epoch-making Battle of Actium (31 BC), which eliminated Marcus Antonius and Queen Cleopatra as rivals. He proved his genius for military command on land by ending bloody rebellions in the Cimmerian Bosporus, Gaul, Hispania and Illyricum.??In Gaul Agrippa established the vital road network that helped turn Julius Caesar's conquests into viable provinces. As a diplomat, he befriended Herod the Great of Judaea and stabilised the East. As minister of works he overhauled Rome's drains and aqueducts, transformed public bathing in the city, created public parks with great artworks and built the original Pantheon.??Agrippa became co-ruler of the Roman Empire with Augustus and married his daughter Julia. His three sons were adopted by his friend as potential heirs to the throne. Agrippa's unexpected death in 12 BC left Augustus bereft, but his bloodline lived on in the imperial family, through Agrippina the Elder to his grandson Caligula and great grandson Nero.??MARCUS AGRIPPA is lucidly written by the author of the acclaimed biographies Eager for Glory and Germanicus. Illustrated with colour plates, figures and high quality maps, Lindsay Powell presents a penetrating new assessment of the life and achievements of the multifaceted man who put service to friend and country before himself.??“A gripping, thoroughly researched and hugely impressive biography of a key player in the transition from the Roman Republic to Augustus's Empire'.?– Saul David, University of Buckingham, author of WAR: From Ancient Egypt to Iraq.??“Augustus' ascent and reign are unthinkable without Marcus Agrippa. Surprisingly, there has been no biography of Agrippa in English for some eighty years. Powell's book admirably fills this gap and will be indispensable for anyone with a serious interest in this crucial historical period.”?– Karl Galinsky, University of Texas at Austin, author of Augustus: Introduction to the Life of an Emperor.??“Marcus Agrippa was one of history's most intriguing right-hand men. Few played a greater role in the emperor Augustus' success. In vigorous prose, and with a fingertip feel for Roman politics and war, Lindsay Powell brings Agrippa to life.”?– Barry Strauss, Cornell University, author of Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar and the Genius of Leadership.
The Trojan War is the most famous conflict in history, the subject of Homer's Iliad, one of the cornerstones of Western literature. Although many readers know that this literary masterwork is based on actual events, there is disagreement about how much of Homer's tale is true. Drawing on recent archeological research, historian and classicist Barry Strauss explains what really happened in Troy more than 3,000 years ago.

For many years it was thought that Troy was an insignificant place that never had a chance against the Greek warriors who laid siege and overwhelmed the city. In the old view, the conflict was decided by duels between champions on the plain of Troy. Today we know that Troy was indeed a large and prosperous city, just as Homer said. The Trojans themselves were not Greeks but vassals of the powerful Hittite Empire to the east in modern-day Turkey, and they probably spoke a Hittite-related language called Luwian. The Trojan War was most likely the culmination of a long feud over power, wealth, and honor in western Turkey and the offshore islands. The war itself was mainly a low-intensity conflict, a series of raids on neighboring towns and lands. It seems unlikely that there was ever a siege of Troy; rather some sort of trick -- perhaps involving a wooden horse -- allowed the Greeks to take the city.

Strauss shows us where Homer nods, and sometimes exaggerates and distorts, as well. He puts the Trojan War into the context of its time, explaining the strategies and tactics that both sides used, and compares the war to contemporary battles elsewhere in the eastern Mediterranean. With his vivid reconstructions of the conflict and his insights into the famous characters and events of Homer's great epic, Strauss masterfully tells the story of the fall of Troy as history without losing the poetry and grandeur that continue to draw readers to this ancient tale.
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