Cristine's Reviews > Hannibal and Me: What History's Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failu re

Hannibal and Me by Andreas Kluth
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Jan 16, 2012

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Read from April 01 to 16, 2012

I enjoyed the stories about Hannibal, Cleopatra, Amy Tan, Uncle LuLu and the other casts of characters. I enjoyed the musings of the author about how these stories can be explained by the psychological make up of these people. The author would be a wonderful dinner guest or beer drinking companion and shares some of the greatest stories in history.

There were a few things that bothered me about the book. First, there are many footnotes, which give the impression that the statements are facts. However, this book contains a lot of opinion (which may be its strength) and there are a series of techniques that the author employs which require the reader to delineate between fact and thought. The author is overt about a made up conversation between Hannibal and an advisor, but makes some more subtle assertions (e.g. Harry Truman, "who would become one of America's greatest presidents" is a mater of opinion, not fact). Some footnoted material make similar statements, but are made by someone else than the author (and perhaps not purposely, but could appear as facts to a ill informed reader).

My other concern is largely with the editing. I got the impression that there was much more to the book which lead to some gaps and awkward mental leaps. Even after reading the last chapter, I really don't understand why so many pages were dedicated to the relationship between famous people and their parents (it was presented in a psychological context).

With all these concerns, I still found this a good synopsis of history, psychological theory and personal observations and recommend it provided readers understand that this not the book of a psychologist or formal historian, but that of a writer. It is a Gladwell-like work that explains some things that those of us with a few miles on the planet ponder (based on many of his thoughts, I suspect that I'm about the same age as the author). I'd recommend it to anyone who likes Gladwell, the Freakonomics guys and thinks about the way history and today are related. Enjoy!
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