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Most of human history is full of the stories of peasants, subjects, or tribes. The concept of the "citizen," an idea we take for granted, is historically quite rare - and was, until recently, amongst America's most profoundly cherished ideals. But without shock treatment, warns historian and conservative political commentator Victor Davis Hanson, American citizenship as we have known it for well over two centuries may soon vanish.
In The Dying Citizen, Hanson outlines the forces that have brought us to the twilight of American citizenship, and led to the deeply fractured politics of the present era. Over the last half-century, numerous forces from both above and below have conspired to undermine the value we place in the idea of citizenship - and our vigilance in protecting it. To be self-governing, citizens must be economically autonomous, but the evisceration of the middle class and the rise of inequality have made many Americans dependent on the federal government. Citizenship exists within delineated borders - but open borders and the elite concept of "global citizenship" have rendered meaningless the idea of allegiance to a particular place. Citizenship relies on the renunciation of tribal identity in favor of the state, but identity politics have eradicated the idea of a collective civic sense of self. A vastly expanded unelected bureaucracy has overwhelmed the power of elected officials, thereby destroying the sovereign power of the citizen. Progressive academics and activists lay siege to the institutions and traditions of constitutional citizenship.
As in the revolutionary years of 1848, 1917, and 1968, 2020 has ripped away our complacency about the future of our most cherished ideals. Americans are forced to confront the fragility of citizenship - indeed, the fragility of our nation. But this calamitous year may also teach Americans to rebuild and recover what we have lost. The choice is ours.
World War II was the most lethal conflict in human history. Never before had a war been fought on so many diverse landscapes and in so many different ways, from rocket attacks in London to jungle fighting in Burma to armor strikes in Libya.
The Second World Wars examines how combat unfolded in the air, at sea, and on land to show how distinct conflicts among disparate combatants coalesced into one interconnected global war. Drawing on 3,000 years of military history, bestselling author Victor Davis Hanson argues that despite its novel industrial barbarity, neither the war's origins nor its geography were unusual. Nor was its ultimate outcome surprising. The Axis powers were well prepared to win limited border conflicts, but once they blundered into global war, they had no hope of victory.
An authoritative new history of astonishing breadth, The Second World Wars offers a stunning reinterpretation of history's deadliest conflict.
In The Case for Trump, award-winning historian and political commentator Victor Davis Hanson explains how a celebrity businessman with no political or military experience triumphed over sixteen well-qualified Republican rivals, a Democrat with a quarter-billion-dollar war chest, and a hostile media and Washington establishment to become president of the United States -- and an extremely successful president.
Trump alone saw a political opportunity in defending the working people of America's interior whom the coastal elite of both parties had come to scorn, Hanson argues. And Trump alone had the instincts and energy to pursue this opening to victory, dismantle a corrupt old order, and bring long-overdue policy changes at home and abroad. We could not survive a series of presidencies as volatile as Trump's. But after decades of drift, America needs the outsider Trump to do what normal politicians would not and could not do.
Looking beyond popular explanations such as geography or superior technology, Hanson argues that it is in fact Western culture and values–the tradition of dissent, the value placed on inventiveness and adaptation, the concept of citizenship–which have consistently produced superior arms and soldiers. Offering riveting battle narratives and a balanced perspective that avoids simple triumphalism, Carnage and Culture demonstrates how armies cannot be separated from the cultures that produce them and explains why an army produced by a free culture will always have the advantage.
Over the course of a generation, the Hellenic city-states of Athens and Sparta fought a bloody conflict that resulted in the collapse of Athens and the end of its golden age. Thucydides wrote the standard history of the Peloponnesian War, which has given readers throughout the ages a vivid and authoritative narrative. But Hanson offers readers something new: a complete chronological account that reflects the political background of the time, the strategic thinking of the combatants, the misery of battle in multifaceted theaters, and important insight into how these events echo in the present.
Hanson compellingly portrays the ways Athens and Sparta fought on land and sea, in city and countryside, and details their employment of the full scope of conventional and nonconventional tactics, from sieges to targeted assassinations, torture, and terrorism. He also assesses the crucial roles played by warriors such as Pericles and Lysander, artists, among them Aristophanes, and thinkers including Sophocles and Plato.
Hanson’s perceptive analysis of events and personalities raises many thought-provoking questions: Were Athens and Sparta like America and Russia, two superpowers battling to the death? Is the Peloponnesian War echoed in the endless, frustrating conflicts of Vietnam, Northern Ireland, and the current Middle East? Or was it more like America’s own Civil War, a brutal rift that rent the fabric of a glorious society, or even this century’s “red state—blue state” schism between liberals and conservatives, a cultural war that manifestly controls military policies? Hanson daringly brings the facts to life and unearths the often surprising ways in which the past informs the present.
Brilliantly researched, dynamically written, A War Like No Other is like no other history of this important war.
In this sweeping and deeply imagined historical novel, acclaimed classicist Victor Davis Hanson re-creates the battles of one of the greatest generals of ancient Greece, Epaminondas. At the Battle of Leuktra, his Thebans crushed the fearsome army of Sparta that had enslaved its neighbors for two centuries.
We follow these epic historical events through the eyes of Mêlon, a farmer who has left his fields to serve with Epaminondas-swept up, against his better judgment, in the fever to spread democracy even as he yearns to return to his pastoral hillside.
With a scholar's depth of knowledge and a novelist's vivid imagination, Hanson re-creates the ancient world down to its intimate details-from the weight of a spear in a soldier's hand to the peculiar camaraderie of a slave and master who go into battle side by side. The End of Sparta is a stirring drama and a rich, absorbing reading experience.
Praise for Victor Davis Hanson:
"I have never read another book that explains so well the truth that 'war lies in the dark hearts of us all' but that history offers hope."-William Shawcross on The Father of Us All
"Few writers cover both current events and history-and none with the brilliance and erudition of Victor Davis Hanson."-Max Boot on The Father of Us All"Enthralling."-Christopher Hitchens on The Western Way of War
The Athenian defeat at Delium in 424 BC brought tactical innovations to infantry fighting; it also assured the influence of the philosophy of Socrates, who fought well in the battle. Nearly twenty-three hundred years later, the carnage at Shiloh and the death of the brilliant Southern strategist Albert Sidney Johnson inspired a sense of fateful tragedy that would endure and stymie Southern culture for decades. The Northern victory would also bolster the reputation of William Tecumseh Sherman, and inspire Lew Wallace to pen the classic Ben Hur. And, perhaps most resonant for our time, the agony of Okinawa spurred the Japanese toward state-sanctioned suicide missions, a tactic so uncompromising and subversive, it haunts our view of non-Western combatants to this day.
Hanson follows the fortunes of Hispanic friends he has known all his lifehow they have succeeded in America and how they regard the immigration quandary. But if Mexifornia is an emotionally generous look at the ambition and vigor of people who have made California strong, it is also an indictment of the policies that got California into its present mess. In the end, Hanson is hopeful that our traditions of assimilation, integration and intermarriage may yet remedy a predicament that the politicians and ideologues have allowed to get out of hand.
"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.
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.
The Western Way of War draws from an extraordinary range of sources--Greek poetry, drama, and vase painting, as well as historical records--to describe what actually took place on the battlefield. It is the first study to explore the actual mechanics of classical Greek battle from the vantage point of the infantryman--the brutal spear-thrusting, the difficulty of fighting in heavy bronze armor which made it hard to see, hear and move, and the fear. Hanson also discusses the physical condition and age of the men, weaponry, wounds, and morale.
This compelling account of what happened on the killing fields of the ancient Greeks ultimately shows that their style of armament and battle was contrived to minimize time and life lost by making the battle experience as decisive and appalling as possible. Linking this new style of fighting to the rise of constitutional government, Hanson raises new issues and questions old assumptions about the history of war.
Hanson's reconstruction of ancient Greek farm life, informed by the hands-on knowledge of the subject (he is a fifth-generation California vine and fruit-grower), is fresh, comprehensive, and totally absorbing. But his detailed chronicle of the rise and tragic fall of the Greek city-state also helps us to grasp the implications of what may be the single most significant trend in American life today - namely, the imminent extinction of the family farm.
Since Thomas Jefferson Hanson points out, American democracy has been though to depend on the virtues that have traditionally been bred on the farm: self-reliance, honesty, skepticism, a healthy suspicion of urban sophistication, and a stern ethic of accountability, which, as the Greeks teach us, have always been the core values of democratic citizenship. Hanson rightly fears the consequences for American democracy when the family farm disappears, taking with it our last links to the agrarian roots of Western civilization.