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Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power by [Victor Davis Hanson]
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Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 415 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Vivid . . . ambitious . . . Challenges readers to broaden their horizons and examine their assumptions. . . . [Hanson] more than makes his case.”--The New York Times Book Review

“No one offers a more compelling picture of how wars reflect and affect the societies, including our own, that wage them.” —National Review

“Hanson . . . is becoming one of the best-known historians in America . . . [Carnage and Culture] can only enhance his reputation.” —John Keegan, Daily Telegraph (London)

“Victor Davis Hanson is courting controversy again with another highly readable, lucid work. Together with John Keegan, he is our most interesting historian of war.” —Jean Bethke Elshtain, author of Women and War


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Amazon.com Review

Many theories have been offered regarding why Western culture has spread so successfully across the world, with arguments ranging from genetics to superior technology to the creation of enlightened economic, moral, and political systems. In Carnage and Culture, military historian Victor Hanson takes all of these factors into account in making a bold, and sure to be controversial, argument: Westerners are more effective killers. Focusing specifically on military power rather than the nature of Western civilization in general, Hanson views war as the ultimate reflection of a society's character: "There is…a cultural crystallization in battle, in which the insidious and more subtle institutions that heretofore are murky and undefined became stark and unforgiving in the finality of organized killing."

Though technological advances and superior weapons have certainly played a role in Western military dominance, Hanson posits that cultural distinctions are the most significant factors. By bringing personal freedom, discipline, and organization to the battlefield, powerful "marching democracies" were more apt to defeat non-Western nations hampered by unstable governments, limited funding, and intolerance of open discussion. These crucial differences often ensured victory even against long odds. Greek armies, for instance, who elected their own generals and freely debated strategy were able to win wars even when far outnumbered and deep within enemy territory. Hanson further argues that granting warriors control of their own destinies results in the kind of glorification of horrific hand-to-hand combat necessary for true domination.

The nine battles Hanson examines include the Greek naval victory against the Persians at Salamis in 480 B.C., Cortes's march on Mexico City in 1521, the battle of Midway in 1942, and the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam. In the book's fascinating final chapter, he then looks forward and ponders the consequences of a complete cultural victory, challenging the widespread belief that democratic nations do not wage war against one another: "We may well be all Westerners in the millennium to come, and that could be a very dangerous thing indeed," he writes. It seems the West will always seek an enemy, even if it must come from within. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0012D1D7S
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Anchor; 1st edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ December 18, 2007
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 4199 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 546 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 415 ratings

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Victor Davis Hanson is Professor of Greek and Director of the Classics Program at California State University, Fresno. He is the author or editor of many books, including Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (with John Heath, Free Press, 1998), and The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999). In 1992 he was named the most outstanding undergraduate teacher of classics in the nation.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
415 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2018
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19 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on August 26, 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

J N BIDE-THOMAS
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit repetitive in places; I think Hanson ought ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 27, 2015
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2 people found this helpful
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Marc Hertel
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting analysis (and plenty to think about)
Reviewed in Germany on March 30, 2003
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3 people found this helpful
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Maciej Nowotny
5.0 out of 5 stars Risky argument brilliantly delivered!!
Reviewed in Germany on December 19, 2017
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Volpone
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal West
Reviewed in Canada on December 28, 2011
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One person found this helpful
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Eric Chu
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and repetitive book
Reviewed in Australia on January 25, 2021
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