Carnage and Culture by Victor Hanson
Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power

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Examining nine landmark battles from ancient to modern times--from Salamis, where outnumbered Greeks devastated the slave army of Xerxes, to Cortes’s conquest of Mexico to the Tet offensive--Victor Davis Hanson explains why the armies of the West have been the most lethal and effective of any fighting forces in the world.

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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Victor Hanson

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Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian who is a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno. He has written several scholarly and popular books on ancient history and classical warfare, including The Other Greeks, The Western Way of War, and The Soul of Battle. He lives in Selma, California.
Published December 18, 2007 by Anchor. 544 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Action & Adventure, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Carnage and Culture

Kirkus Reviews

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A fascinating study of the way Western values have translated into Western military victories against non-Western cultures.

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The New York Times

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The last three (Rorke's Drift, Midway and Tet) suggest how this distinctive military culture -- rarely shackled by ritual, tradition, religion or ethics -- has led to Western superiority in arms worldwide, so that today ''Western armies have little to fear from any force other than themselves.'' ...

Aug 12 2001 | Read Full Review of Carnage and Culture: Landmark...

Publishers Weekly

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"The Western way of war is so lethal precisely because it is so amoral—shackled rarely by concerns of ritual, tradition, religion, or ethics, by anything other than military necessity.

Jul 16 2001 | Read Full Review of Carnage and Culture: Landmark...

The tradition of "civic militarism" -- that is, the West's ability to mobilize citizen soldiers and animate them with the discipline of collective endeavor -- has helped create an ascendancy that remains, in Hanson's view, secure.

Aug 22 2017 | Read Full Review of Carnage and Culture: Landmark...

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