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The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost - From Ancient Greece to Iraq Kindle Edition
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"Victor Davis Hanson has written another outstanding and eye-opening book"--The Washington Examiner
Leading military historian Victor Davis Hanson returns to non-fiction in The Savior Generals, a set of brilliantly executed pocket biographies of five generals who single-handedly saved their nations from defeat in war. War is rarely a predictable enterprise--it is a mess of luck, chance, and incalculable variables. Today's sure winner can easily become tomorrow's doomed loser. Sudden, sharp changes in fortune can reverse the course of war.
These intractable circumstances are sometimes mastered by leaders of genius--asked at the eleventh hour to save a hopeless conflict, created by others, often unpopular with politics and the public.
These savior generals often come from outside the established power structure, employ radical strategies, and flame out quickly. Their careers often end in controversy. But their dramatic feats of leadership are vital slices of history--not merely as stirring military narrative, but as lessons on the dynamic nature of consensus, leadership, and destiny.
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“Mr. Hanson's fluency with a broad range of historical epochs, which has made him one of his generation's most notable historians, is on full display in ‘The Savior Generals.'” ―Mark Moyar, Wall Street Journal
“It is not really news that Victor Davis Hanson has written another outstanding and eye-opening book. He has done that before and repeatedly, on a variety of subjects.” ―Washington Examiner
“An instructive series of portraits of five military outsiders called in to turn defeat into victory.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“An engaging book in which the action on the battlefield is placed within a larger perspective of the politics and the societies that go to war, and the qualities of the generals who fight those battles.” ―John E. McIntyre, The Baltimore Sun
“Students of military leadership will be intrigued by Hanson's astute set of cases.” ―Booklist
“Great summer reading…In The Savior Generals, credit is given where it's due.” ―Weekly Standard
“Provides widely applicable insight regarding the dynamics of leadership and consensus, and how those dynamics can change the destiny of nations.” ―Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“Victor Davis Hanson has written another good book for a wide variety of audiences.” ―New York Journal of Books
- ASIN : B00CHHTJBK
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Press; 1st edition (May 14, 2013)
- Publication date : May 14, 2013
- Language : English
- File size : 7617 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 321 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 160819342X
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #145,796 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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For me the most knowledge gaining read was about Ridgway. I know almost nothing about the Korean war and those times and so that was really an interesting read for me. He covered the politics of the early 50's, how the US almost got thrown out of Korea and how this character, Ridgway, who was at a cocktail party in D.C. got tagged and overnight landed up in Korea as the key field commander their having to deal with an army that was in full retreat. Yet in 90 days he turned it around and replaced MacArthur in Japan. I had no idea how bad the situation was. My only understanding was that no one likes to talk about the Korean war.
Petraeus was an interesting read for me as well because although I was certainly living through that time (2007 - 2008) I did not know much about the general and of course current politics blurred actual events. No matter how you feel about the war in Iraq this is an informational read about how we got there and what the Surge was all about.
Hanson's write up on all five generals was really done very well. You did not get lost in the pages. He kept it crisp and concise and very interesting to read. You will learn a lot and that is always a good thing.
There is not moralizing in the book, no politics. Just the players, how they developed, how the battles developed and what happened to them afterwards. Great read.
The Savior Generals (TSG) is a clear miss. I don't know why he wrote it, but I suspect it was to praise Petraeus. He is readable and moderately convincing with Themistocles and Belisarius and, perhaps, Ridgway, but even with these subjects I intuit a process of forcing the narrative into a template for successful military saviors. And the template simply doesn't fit well. His prose wanders and is unfocused ... compared to his other writings. All in all, TSG feels like a series of articles on five notable generals that has been later warped to create and advocate a common theme.
TSG is simply not up to Hanson's standards. And I'm disappointed.
HST, the last chapter, the summation, is Hanson back at his normal brilliance. His prose clears, his arguments simplify, and focus reappears. It is well worth reading. As to the rest, I'd spend my time on other Hanson works ... they are simply better.
Seeing how long thought out Salamis was for the Athenian victory was very interesting, and prescient as well. All the other generals discussed were pretty well known and interesting throughout but Matthew Ridgeway seemed the most forgotten, of the forgotten war, and how he turned that around was really enlightening. Strange how soldiers need good leadership and focus on the why/what they are actually accomplishing to be successful... Highly recommended book.
Top reviews from other countries
On the contrary. Although the stories on each of the generals are (necessarily) short (they are after all no biographies), they nevertheless give the exact information on what each general did to turn things around. I think that that is impressive. Reading the book, it became clear to me that the writer must have an extensive knowledge on the lives of these generals. And then be able to tell their stories concisely and clearly is truly (and I say it again) impressive.
This 2013 release contains Hanson's commentary on five generals over a period of nearly 2500 years who share three main characteristics: first they were called in to deal with a dire situation; (2) they successfully turned the potential defeat into victory and (3) after turning defeat into victory they were rejected and, in some cases, vilified by their political leaders.
The five generals Hanson uses in this study are Themistocles (480 BC), Belisarius (529-559 AD), William Tecumseh Sherman in 1864, Matthew Ridgway in Korea 1950-51 and David Petraeus in Iraq 2007-08.
This is a very interesting book with some very worthwhile insights and historical lessons.
Well worth the attention of anyone interested in military and political history.