The Tragedy of War in the Twentieth Century

Book - 2015
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Sir Alistair Horne has been a close observer of war and history for more than fifty years and in this wise and masterly work, he revisits six battles of the past century and examines the strategies, leadership, preparation, and geopolitical goals of aggressors and defenders to reveal the one trait that links them all: hubris.

In Greek tragedy, hubris is excessive human pride that challenges the gods and ultimately leads to total destruction of the offender. From the 1905 Battle of Tsushima in the Russo-Japanese War, to Hitler's 1941 bid to capture Moscow, to MacArthur's disastrous advance in Korea, to the French downfall at Dien Bien Phu, Horne shows how each of these battles was won or lost due to excessive hubris on one side or the other. In a sweeping narrative written with his trademark erudition and wit, Horne provides a meticulously detailed analysis of the ground maneuvers employed by the opposing armies in each battle. He also explores the strategic and psychological mindset of the military leaders involved to demonstrate how devastating combinations of human ambition and arrogance led to overreach. Making clear the danger of hubris in warfare, his insights hold resonant lessons for civilian and military leaders navigating today's complex global landscape.

A dramatic, colorful, stylishly-written history, Hubris is a much-needed reflection on war from a master of his field.

Publisher: New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2015]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062397805
Characteristics: xii, 382 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Call Number: 355.020904 HOR


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Oct 16, 2017

I rather liked this book, largely because I learned something new about something I thought I had already known pretty well (WW2). What I learned was the importance of Nomonhan for the Soviets in their entry into the war, and for Japan's decision to expand into the south for its drive to get resources. Brief portraits of important players, and the institutional cultures in which they operated are made as well as the actual sequence of events of the battles he discusses. Although there are several maps, it could have used many more in order to follow what he was talking about in narrating the events of the battles.

Dec 15, 2015

I haven't read this book, but I did read Horne's utterly crappy and non-factual book on Kissinger, they should jail this dude! [Excuse, me, Sir Dude!]

Dec 15, 2015

Alister Horne's review of several battles and campaigns seems superficial and with limited depth. Much of this can be found in more detail on Wikipedia. I did find the Japanese-Russian Siberian war (pre WW2) information interesting, but I think I reading Zhukov's biography might be better. British forces failures are all missing, like Suez and the WW2 failures of Montgomery with Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem. Better books available. Sorry.


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