Top critical review
A Reluctant Assessment
Reviewed in the United States on April 7, 2019
To now, Hanson's books have been a delightful tour de force. A War Like No Other has, IMO, no peer in ancient military history. The Western Way of War is convincing and insightful and compelling. And I'm reading The Second World Wars, with pleasure, currently.
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.