Two modern masters of military history make their case for the twenty most pivotal battles of all time, in a riveting trip through the ages to those moments when the fate of the world hung in the balance.
In the grand tradition of Edward Creasy's classic" Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, " James Lacey and Williamson Murray spotlight only those engagements that changed the course of civilization. In gripping narrative accounts they bring these conflicts and eras to vivid life, detailing the cultural imperatives that led inexorably to the battlefield, the experiences of the common soldiers who fought and died, and the legendary commanders and statesmen who matched wits, will, and nerve for the highest possible stakes.
From the great clashes of antiquity to the high-tech wars of the twenty-first century, here are the stories of the twenty most consequential battles ever fought, including
- Marathon, where Greece's "greatest generation" repelled Persian forces three times their numbers--and saved Western civilization in its infancy
- Adrianople, the death blow to a disintegrating Roman Empire
- Trafalgar, the epic naval victory that cemented a century of British supremacy over the globe
- Saratoga, the first truly "American" victory, won by united colonial militias, which ensured the ultimate triumph of the Revolution
- Midway, the ferocious World War II sea battle that broke the back of the Japanese navy
- Dien Bien Phu, the climactic confrontation between French imperial troops and Viet Minh rebels that led to American intervention in Vietnam and marked the rise of a new era of insurgent warfare
- Operation Peach, the perilous 2003 mission to secure a vital bridge over the Euphrates River that would open the way to Baghdad
Historians and armchair generals will argue forever about which battles have had the most direct impact on history. But there can be no doubt that these twenty are among those that set mankind on new trajectories. Each of these epochal campaigns is examined in its full historical, strategic, and tactical context--complete with edge-of-your-seat you-are-there battle re-creations. With an eye for the small detail as well as the bigger picture, Lacey and Murray identify the elements that bind these battles together: the key decisions, critical mistakes, and moments of crisis on which the fates of entire civilizations depended.
Some battles merely leave a field littered with the bodies of the fallen. Others transform the map of the entire world. "Moment of Battle" is history written with the immediacy of today's news, a magisterial "tour d'horizon" that refreshes our understanding of those essential turning points where the future was decided.
A MAIN SELECTION OF THE HISTORY BOOK CLUB AND THE MILITARY BOOK CLUB
"Two world-class historians present, eloquently and persuasively, twenty battles that fundamentally changed the course of history. "Moment of Battle" is a "must "acquisition for anyone seeking to understand the nature of human development--and its turning points."--Dennis E. Showalter, professor of history, Colorado College, author of "Armor and Blood"
"In a single volume, James Lacey and Williamson Murray have distilled a lifetime of learning and insight into the most influential battles in world history. This is a readable and compelling primer and a feast for the student of military history."--James D. Hornfischer, author of "Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal.
About the Author
James Lacey is the author of several books on military history, terrorism, and current affairs, including "The First Clash", "Keep from All Thoughtful Men", and "Takedown".
Williamson Murray is Professor Emeritus of History at the Ohio State University. At present he is a defense consultant and commentator on historical and military subjects in Washington. He is co-editor of The Making of Peace (with Jim Lacey), The Past as Prologue (with Richard Hart Sinnreich), The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300 2050 (with MacGregor Knox), Military Innovation in the Interwar Period (with Allan R. Millett), and The Making of Strategy (with Alvin Bernstein and MacGregor Knox). He has edited, along with Richard Sinnreich and Jim Lacey, a volume entitled The Shaping of Grand Strategy (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
A MAIN SELECTION OF THE HISTORY BOOK CLUB AND THE MILITARY BOOK CLUB
“Two world-class historians present, eloquently and persuasively, twenty battles that fundamentally changed the course of history. Moment of Battle is a must acquisition for anyone seeking to understand the nature of human development—and its turning points.”—Dennis E. Showalter, professor of history, Colorado College, author of Armor and Blood
“In a single volume, James Lacey and Williamson Murray have distilled a lifetime of learning and insight into the most influential battles in world history. This is a readable and compelling primer and a feast for the student of military history.”—James D. Hornfischer, author of Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal
“Moment of Battle is an exciting account of important battles in history from Marathon in 490 B.C. to Baghdad in 2003. Its authors are excellent military historians with personal experience in modern warfare and a command of the character of warfare throughout the ages. They write in clear and lively prose in a way that will capture the reader’s interest even as they communicate their own learning and excitement with the subject.”—Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor of Classics and History, Yale University
“Lacey and Murray have performed a signal service by reminding readers of the transcendent importance of major battles in shaping history. Readers can disagree with some of their selections, but that is part of the fun of a work like this: It makes you think even as it entertains and informs. This is an invaluable primer on military history.”—Max Boot, author of Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present
“The world’s greatest battles are common book themes; but Lacey and Murray offer two twists to the well-known genre. First, they focus on mostly unappreciated encounters such as Yarmuk, Vicksburg, Kursk, and Dien Bien Phu. Second, their accounts are not mere strategy and tactics, but human stories of the soldiers that won and lost these horrific battles. The result is a riveting human story about how 2,500 years of history were changed by a few remarkable individuals.”—Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, author of Carnage and Culture and The Savior Generals
“Moment of Battle is a more than worthy successor to Sir Edward Creasey’s classic, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. It has extraordinary value because it accomplishes three things unusually well: It has a necessarily largely tactical (and operational) organizing idea and focus that is executed superbly; it is written with a strategic sense that is ever alert to the vital strategist’s question ‘So what?’; and it is accessibly written. It is a really good read.”—Professor Colin S. Gray, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Reading
“From Marathon to the Iraq War, Moment of Battle offers an unflinching account of the reality of conflicts that have shaped human history. Its wise and crisp chapters make ancient history fresh and put current events in perspective. This is a book for every student of military history to read and learn from.”—Barry Strauss, author of Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership
“At last, two eminent military historians have explained how the world’s most critical battles affected the course of civilization. Moment of Battle is a fresh, lively, and remarkable explanation about how the power of armies has shaped history.”—Bing West, co-author of Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War
“Undeniably successful . . . Literate narratives and balanced conclusions should attract a deservedly large readership.”—Booklist
“Will open interesting doors for casual readers and provide plenty of debate fodder for military-history buffs.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Engaging, well written, and thoroughly researched, this book will appeal to amateur and professional historians alike.”—Publishers Weekly