A fairly interesting overview of ancient warfare on a multi-regional scale; not quite global, as there are some areas that are not covered (largely beA fairly interesting overview of ancient warfare on a multi-regional scale; not quite global, as there are some areas that are not covered (largely because of lack of evidence). As might be expected, the "classical" Western societies of Greece and Rome, as well as the Near East/Persia dominate the coverage. Tactical maps are interesting but suffer from some errors (in one case reversing the red/blue assignments for the opposing sides). A good but not great treatment; worth reading as a gateway to more specific information....more
How the North Won is excellently subtitled ("A Military History of the Civil War"). Politics, social concerns, etc., are pushed into the background anHow the North Won is excellently subtitled ("A Military History of the Civil War"). Politics, social concerns, etc., are pushed into the background and only mentioned in connection with their direct impacts on military planning and operations.
The authors do a first-rate job of analyzing all of the major campaigns of the war by both sides (including ones that didn't happen, or that didn't happen as planned) in the light of the military knowledge and theory of the time. If you've ever wondered "Why did General Gray move to the right instead of the left?" or "Why did General Blue delay before moving on the city?", this book is likely to give you terrific insight as to why.
Many apparent "blunders" show themselves as good plans frustrated by the better plans of the other side, making the true blunders stand out in stark relief. The authors provide excellent interpretations and analyses of the performance of both presidents as military strategists, the weaknesses and strengths of their staffs, and similar views of all of the major armies and commands.
Simple but effective maps are included in the body of the text at appropriate points (though the reader may want to have an overall map or atlas handy to fit them all into place), and a great appendix provides a first-rate summary of the methodology of strategy and military analysis.
If you want to learn the purely military side of the Civil War, this is *the* book to read....more
Pretty dry for how interesting it is... or pretty interesting for how dry it is. Henry W. Halleck would become (in)famous in the Civil War for his admPretty dry for how interesting it is... or pretty interesting for how dry it is. Henry W. Halleck would become (in)famous in the Civil War for his administration of the Union armies (his effectiveness in the role is debated but is usually characterized as ineffective), but he originally made his mark as a military engineer and theorist.
In Elements of Military Art and Science, based on a series of lectures he gave at the prestigious Lowell Institute of Boston, Halleck summarizes a great deal of what was known of the art of war in the first half of the 19th Century. He opens by justifying war against charges of its immorality, and of military defenses against efforts to save money by neglecting the military establishment. He then summarizes the arts of strategy, tactics, logistics, and engineering, the importance of intelligent military policy, discusses the state of defenses of the United States at that time (pre-Mexican War), the principles of organization of an army and its components (infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers), and goes into some detail on permanent and temporary fortifications. A final chapter strongly endorses the military academy system as a way of training professional officers.
Halleck makes no claim to originality, clearly stating that he is drawing his ideas and information from others, and provides reading-lists (primarily in French-language sources) for those wishing to delve deeper. But he does a pretty fair job of summarizing the art of war as it was known at the time, and relating it specifically to the interests of the young United States. Elements of Military Art and Science will never replace Clausewitz or Sun Tzu as a classic of military literature, but for an understanding of pre-Civil War American military thinking, it's a good primer. (If dry.)...more
Interesting, but wavers between extremely academic and historically superficial. The end notes at the end of each chapter are annoying; if they're notInteresting, but wavers between extremely academic and historically superficial. The end notes at the end of each chapter are annoying; if they're not going to be at the end of the book, they're really better off at the bottom of each page. Will probably require a re-read of certain sections....more