The Greeks of the classical age invented not only the central idea of Western politics--that the power of state should be guided by a majority of its citizens--but also the central act of Western warfare, the decisive infantry battle. Instead of ambush, skirmish, maneuver, or combat between individual heroes, the Greeks of the fifth century b.c. devised a ferocious, brief, and destructive head-on clash between armed men of all ages. In this bold, original study, Victor Davis Hanson shows how this brutal enterprise was dedicated to the same outcome as consensual government--an unequivocal, instant resolution to dispute.
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.
About Victor Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University. He farmed full-time for five years before returning to academia in 1984 to initiate a Classics program at California State University, Fresno. Currently, he is Professor of Classics there and Coordinator of the Classical Studies Program.
Hanson has written articles, editorials, and reviews for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Daily Telegraph, International Herald Tribune, American Heritage, City Journal, American Spectator, National Review, Policy Review, The Wilson Quarterly, The Weekly Standard, and Washington Times, and has been interviewed on numerous occasions on National Public Radio and the BBC, and appeared with David Gergen on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He writes a biweekly column about contemporary culture and military history for National Review Online.
He is also the author of some eighty scholarly articles, book reviews, and newspaper editorials on Greek, agrarian, and military history, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited eleven books, including The Western Way of War, The Soul of Battle, and Carnage and Culture. He lives and works with his wife and three children on their forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953.