On War and Leadership: The Words of Combat Commanders from Frederick the Great to Norman Schwarzkopf

Princeton University Press
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What can we learn about leadership and the experience of war from the best combat leaders the world has ever known? This book takes us behind the scenes and to the front lines of the major wars of the past 250 years through the words of twenty combat commanders. What they have to say--which is remarkably similar across generational, national, and ideological divides--is a fascinating take on military history by those who lived it. It is also worthwhile reading for anyone, from any walk of life, who makes executive decisions.

The leaders showcased here range from Frederick the Great to Norman Schwarzkopf. They include such diverse figures as Napoleon Bonaparte, commanders on both sides of the Civil War (William Tecumseh Sherman and Stonewall Jackson), German and American World War II generals (Rommel and Patton), a veteran of the Arab-Israeli wars (Moshe Dayan), and leaders from both sides of the Vietnam War (Vo Nguyen Giap and Harold Moore). What they have had in common is an unrivaled understanding of the art of command and a willingness to lead from the front. All earned the respect and loyalty of those they led--and moved them to risk death.


The practices of these commanders apply to any leadership situation, whether military, business, political, athletic, or other. Their words reveal techniques for anticipating the competition, leading through example, taking care of the "troops," staying informed, turning bad luck to advantage, improvising, and making bold decisions.


Leader after leader emphasizes the importance of up-front "muddy boots" leadership and reveals what it takes to persevere and win. Identifying a pattern of proven leadership, this book will benefit anyone who aspires to lead a country, a squadron, a company, or a basketball team. It is a unique distillation of two and a half centuries of military wisdom.

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About the author

Owen Connelly is the McKissick Dial Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. An ex-captain of U.S. Army Rangers, he did two years' duty in the Korean War and was later executive officer of the Rangers' Amphibious and Jungle Warfare Training Camp in Florida. He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, in 1989 and 1995. His many books include Napoleon's Satellite Kingdoms, The Gentle Bonaparte, The Epoch of Napoleon, Blundering to Glory, and the widely used text French Revolution and Napoleonic Era.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 10, 2009
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Pages
360
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ISBN
9781400825165
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / 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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No one man can win a battle by himself, but battles have been won and lost because of the strength or failings of one individual: the leader.
 
What went on in the minds and hearts of a select group of military leaders at critical moments in battle is the theme of this book. In Leaders and Battles, W. J. Wood re-creates ten battles from history, depicting the action in vivid detail—the brilliant formations, charging horses, clanking bayonets. The point of view is always that of the commanding officer. The particular quality of leadership that won—or lost—the encounter is very clear.
 
For Mad Anthony Wayne at Stony Point, it was courage that won the day. For Scipio Africanus at Ilipa, it was imagination. Custer’s judgment at the Little Big Horn was definitely in question. When the French stormed Ratisbon, it was the inspiration of Lannes that broke the impasse. At the battle of Bushy Run, Bouquet could never have outwitted Pontiac had he lacked flexibility.
 
The dynamics of battle as well as the strategy and tactics involved are equally well demonstrated. Though the means of fighting varied as much as the time and the civilizations involved, the lessons learned are just as applicable today. Men no longer fight with drawn swords, make barricades out of mealie bags, or use a swarm of bees as a weapon. But that is part of this book’s fascination.
 
Leaders and Battles is a remarkable retelling of fighting engagements for the armchair strategist, the leader in training, the history buff, and the general reader. It will take time before the major wars and low-intensity skirmishes of this century can be written about with the historical detachment and understanding that the author displays here. In the meantime, we can all profit from these lessons of history.
Stephen E. Ambrose’s iconic New York Times bestseller about the ordinary men who became the World War II’s most extraordinary soldiers: Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army.

They came together, citizen soldiers, in the summer of 1942, drawn to Airborne by the $50 monthly bonus and a desire to be better than the other guy. And at its peak—in Holland and the Ardennes—Easy Company was as good a rifle company as any in the world.

From the rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to the disbanding in 1945, Stephen E. Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company. In combat, the reward for a job well done is the next tough assignment, and as they advanced through Europe, the men of Easy kept getting the tough assignments.

They parachuted into France early D-Day morning and knocked out a battery of four 105 mm cannon looking down Utah Beach; they parachuted into Holland during the Arnhem campaign; they were the Battered Bastards of the Bastion of Bastogne, brought in to hold the line, although surrounded, in the Battle of the Bulge; and then they spearheaded the counteroffensive. Finally, they captured Hitler's Bavarian outpost, his Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden.

They were rough-and-ready guys, battered by the Depression, mistrustful and suspicious. They drank too much French wine, looted too many German cameras and watches, and fought too often with other GIs. But in training and combat they learned selflessness and found the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They discovered that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.

This is the story of the men who fought, of the martinet they hated who trained them well, and of the captain they loved who led them. E Company was a company of men who went hungry, froze, and died for each other, a company that took 150 percent casualties, a company where the Purple Heart was not a medal—it was a badge of office.
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The only comprehensive, firsthand account of the fourteen-hour firefight at the Battle of Keating by Medal of Honor recipient Clinton Romesha, for readers of Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden and Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell.
 
“‘It doesn't get better.’ To us, that phrase nailed one of the essential truths, maybe even the essential truth, about being stuck at an outpost whose strategic and tactical vulnerabilities were so glaringly obvious to every soldier who had ever set foot in that place that the name itself—Keating—had become a kind of backhanded joke.”
 
In 2009, Clinton Romesha of Red Platoon and the rest of the Black Knight Troop were preparing to shut down Command Outpost (COP) Keating, the most remote and inaccessible in a string of bases built by the US military in Nuristan and Kunar in the hope of preventing Taliban insurgents from moving freely back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Three years after its construction, the army was finally ready to concede what the men on the ground had known immediately: it was simply too isolated and too dangerous to defend. 
 
On October 3, 2009, after years of constant smaller attacks, the Taliban finally decided to throw everything they had at Keating. The ensuing fourteen-hour battle—and eventual victory—cost eight men their lives. 
 
Red Platoon is the riveting firsthand account of the Battle of Keating, told by Romesha, who spearheaded both the defense of the outpost and the counterattack that drove the Taliban back beyond the wire and received the Medal of Honor for his actions. 

“A vitally important story that needs to be understood by the public, and I cannot imagine an account that does it better justice that Romesha’s.”—Sebastian Junger, journalist and author of The Perfect Storm

“Red Platoon is sure to become a classic of the genre.”—Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers and In the Kingdom of Ice
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