Besieged: An Encyclopedia of Great Sieges from Ancient Times to the Present

ABC-CLIO
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From Joshua's assault on Jericho in the 15th century B.C. to the Russian attack on the Chechen capital of Grozny at the end of the 20th century, siege warfare has been a recurring theme in the human story. Again and again, engineers have built supposedly impregnable fortifications, only to see them overrun by an ingenious enemy.

In Besieged, military historian Paul F. Davis analyzes the most crucial sieges in world history, such as the siege of Leningrad, which weakened the Nazi forces in World War II, and that of the Alamo, which culminated in independence for Texas. He also describes important sieges unfamiliar to most readers, such as that of Arcot, where a British victory halted the French takeover of southern India. In engaging, accessible language, Davis tracks the invention of new technologies, analyzes innovative tactics, and tells the human story of conditions both inside and outside the city walls.

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About the author

Paul K. Davis, PhD, is a history instructor at the University of Texas, San Antonio, TX and at St. Mary's University, San Antonio, TX.

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Additional Information

Publisher
ABC-CLIO
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Published on
Dec 31, 2001
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Pages
376
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ISBN
9781576071953
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Strategy
History / World
Reference / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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"The personality of a general is indispensable," Napoleon once said. "He is the head, he is the all, of an army." In Masters of the Battlefield, Paul K. Davis offers vivid portraits of fifteen legendary military leaders whose brilliance on and off the battlefield embody this maxim. Hailing from the earliest days of Greek warfare to France at the turn of the nineteenth century, these men stand out for their tactical abilities--generals who made a difference in combat, grasping the way an enemy would think or move and reacting not just to ensure victory, but do so in the face of superior forces. Among the leaders discussed in this encompassing work of military history are Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, Belisarius, Chinggis Khan, Oda Nobunaga, the Duke of Wellington, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Davis briefly explores the biography of each commander, considering how his upbringing, early experiences, and social and cultural background might have translated into his leadership abilities. Relying on vast research, Davis describes the nature of armies and warfare of the time, from the phalanx battle of Ancient Greece to the artillery-heavy Swedish army under Gustavus Adolphus. He also examines the course of the wars in which each general fought as a background to the particular battles that best illustrates their abilities, and discusses each battle in detail, aided extensively by detailed battlefield maps. Davis concludes each section with an analysis of the tactical skills and principles at which each general excelled. In analyzing these remarkable leaders, Davis offers a picture of warfare throughout history, and shows this history to be directed--and oftentimes wholly decided--by the abilities of a single man. Masters of the Battlefield tells the stories of men who defined eras, reshaped nations, and who, through the introduction of new weapons and tactics, revolutionized the nature of warfare.
Indian Expeditionary Force D landed at the head of the Persian Gulf on 7 November 1914 and quickly gained control of the area around Basra. Since the British army was already involved in drawn-out trench warfare in France, and the outlook there was far from bright, it seemed odd that the British government would commit troops to another campaign. The traditionally accepted rationale behind this move has been the protection of oil supplies used by the Royal Navy - but the campaign veered seriously away from its original intent.
What followed was perhaps the finest example of blind political ambition in wartime. In April 1915, another division was added to Force D; and its new commander, General Sir John Nixon, arrived in Mesopotamia with orders to protect the oil supply, establish British control in the province of Basra, and prepare plans for a possible future offensive on Baghdad. The campaign against the Turks was a model of daring and sacrifice in the Middle Eastern desert. Successive victories encouraged the authorities in India to expand the campaign to aim at Baghdad. At this point the campaign was doomed to failure. The lack of direction, policy, and cooperation between Nixon, India, and London resulted in the total lack of a suitable logistic framework in Mesopotamia. An unwitting conspiracy of hesitant and uninformed leaders in London, greedy politicians in India, and aggressive "men on the spot" brought about the longest siege in British history and one of the great military disasters of this century.
The appalling suffering and loss of the 6th Indian Division provoked such a public outcry in Britain that the government was obliged to institute a parliamentary investigation. The resulting Mesopotamia Commission rocked the nation and the government alike.
This book probes the rationale behind the British interest in the Middle East, the invasion of Mesopotamia, the successes that drove the political aspirations higher, and the brilliance of the leadership and soldiery in contrast to the blindness of zealous politicians. It gives the most in-depth analysis of the Mesopotamia Commission anywhere and apportions blame where it is due and forgiveness where it is necessary. It is a story of soldiers at their best who were sacrificed for politics at its worst.
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