Victor Davis Hanson has long been acclaimed as one of our leading scholars of ancient history. In recent years he has also become a trenchant voice on current affairs, bringing a historian's deep knowledge of past conflicts to bear on the crises of the present, from 9/11 to Iran. "War," he writes, "is an entirely human enterprise." Ideologies change, technologies develop, new strategies are invented-but human nature is constant across time and space. The dynamics of warfare in the present age still remain comprehensible to us through careful study of the past. Though many have called the War on Terror unprecedented, its contours would have been quite familiar to Themistocles of Athens or William Tecumseh Sherman. And as we face the menace of a bin Laden or a Kim Jong-Il, we can prepare ourselves with knowledge of how such challenges have been met before.
The Father of Us All brings together much of Hanson's finest writing on war and society, both ancient and modern. The author has gathered a range of essays, and combined and revised them into a richly textured new work that explores such topics as how technology shapes warfare, what constitutes the "American way of war," and why even those who abhor war need to study military history. "War is the father and king of us all," Heraclitus wrote in ancient Greece. And as Victor Davis Hanson shows, it is no less so today.
Victor Davis Hanson
Brand: Bloomsbury Press
Used Book in Good Condition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
From the mind of Victor Davis Hanson comes The Father of Us All, which gets its name from the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus (c. 535-475 BC), who said that war is "the father, the king of us all" (p. 32). That title and quote perfectly describe the theme of this book whose author finds it difficult to think of a democracy "that was not an outcome of armed struggle" (p. 16). Although it covers war, a familiar topic for the author, it is a unique book among the Hanson collection featuring a mishmash of articles and reviews from various publications instead of his other works with more narrow themes (e.g., A War Like No Other, Carnage and Culture). Avid readers of Hanson will surely find something new...
Victor Davis Hanson's "The Father of Us All" is an excellent series of essays about war - why we fight, how we fight, the compromises societies make with themselves as they fight, what causes some countries to keep fighting while others grow weary of it, what types of societies deal best with the stresses of war, the future of war and a look at the American way of waging war.
Many of these essays have been previously published (or substantial parts of them) in magazines but Hanson has re-worked and amplified them. I only recognized one essay and the new version was longer and more substantive.
Hanson is a brilliant essayist - he expands the reader's point of view without talking down to him. Instead, in plain language he discusses large ideas and, happily, he includes plenty of references to other authors and other books that he has found interesting and informative. Reading Hanson is liking talking to an old friend who not only informs, he also entertains and...
Victor Hanson, a classicist, columnist, and senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, presents in this volume a series of gracefully reworked essays and book reviews that (with some occasional repetition) revolve about a few salient themes.
Hanson argues that the essence of both man and war has remained unchanged through the centuries; that lacking a sense of deterrence, aggressors will always take advantage of their fellows; and that war should be studied by scholars for its didactic value in preparation for inevitable future conflicts. Hanson also believes that wars rarely arise over economics but rather often begin through irrational perceptions about pride and honor. (Even when Greeks fought over land, says Hanson, they--like the British and Argentines in the Falklands--usually fought over worthless land.) Finally, Hanson argues that actual warfare is unpredictable and that all sides make mistakes; the victors, he says, simply prove better at correcting...
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