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Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  117 ratings  ·  27 reviews
"A philosophical and spiritual defense of the premodern world, of the tragic view, of physical courage, and of masculinity and self-sacrifice in an age when those ancient virtues are too often caricatured and dismissed."
Victor Davis Hanson

Award-winning author Michael Walsh celebrates the masculine attributes of heroism that forged American civilization and Western cultu
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by St. Martin's Press
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Dee Arr
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
The author’s Introduction should neither be skipped nor skimmed, as it outlines the purpose of the book. I will warn you that the author does not hold back in presenting his ideas, and it is a certainty he will ruffle some feathers while others will nod their heads in fervent agreement. This book talks about the ancient values that men held dear, values that are caught in a push-pull situation in today’s world. To quote the author, “…the natural state of man is war. Our most fundamental myths an ...more
Eric S
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book is not a typical history book detailing events of various battles. The author implies that he will answer "why men fight when all is lost". He presents his thesis and gives some compelling facts, which provided limited support for it. The book has some really good parts, mostly at the beginning and the end. It describes some seventeen battles which the author attempts to use as confirming evidence for his thesis. However, he fails to answer the questions he raises in the introduction. ...more
Casey Wheeler
This book is an interesting read. It takes a slightly different approach from what you would expect with a title of Last Stands. While there is some narrative in each chapter about the battle, the majority is about what motivated the individuals to proceed knowing that there was little to no hope for success in either the short or long run. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for more that just the detail on the battles described in the book.

I received a free Kindle copy of this book
Christian D.  Orr
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

An eminently readable and stirring tribute to warrior heroism & ethos and martial history & tradition, as well as a firm rebuke of pacifistic Political Correctness. Just a few minor technical nitpicks here & there, which I elaborate upon in some of my Notes below.


—p. 3: “Every civilian, even the mama-sans, was a potential enemy combatant, and many was the Marine who died when a peasant woman deployed an AK-47 from beneath her skir
Jon Trainer
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Why men (yes, men) fight and die when hope is lost, and why western civilization owes its existence to such virtuous men. Walsh is a brilliant author whose depth of knowledge and cultural literacy will have the reader googling latin phrases, expanding one's vocabulary, and running down many historical rabbit trails. The read is worth the effort. One prays there are still such men on the ramparts biding their time until duty beckons or the times demand. ...more
A good, if occasionally uneven, reading of the psychology and culture behind last stands. The emphasis, correctly, is on the male experience because these tend to be the ones that embrace the heroic in the act.

Woke readers can safely give this book a pass.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Apr 06, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021, a-in-pls, put-down
As I read the reviews I found I was on the opposing side of the majority of reviewers. I agree with Eric S, and have copied his review. The author would be right at home on a conservative right wing red neck radio show. Why fight to the last man? Because were men dammit! IMO, this is pretty much the entire book. I still don't know the answer to the title except; because! I wasn't into it after a quarter and started skipping around before I gave up altogether. I may try to read this again but tot ...more
Chris Cook
Apr 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
I’ve always loved history; especially military history, so I really enjoyed this book. The narratives about each “last stand” are very interesting, but also instructional and scary. I never really understood the fall of the Roman empire, but anyone who doesn’t see the similarity between that situation and the mess that our country has wandered into today is a moron or just willfully stupid. The similarity between the leadership of Rome back then and our government, big business, and other “elite ...more
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost tells some interesting parts of history. I give it five stars.
Becky Pliego
Mar 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
The introduction is gold. Don’t skim through it.

What I didn’t like: how much the author seems to hate Luther- almost as much as Luther hated the Pope.
William Harris
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I recently finished reading an advance examination copy of Michael Walsh's "Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost," soon to be published by St. Martin's Press. It is an intriguing and unexpected approach to its subject matter. Anyone approaching the text should carefully examine the second part of the title, for this is no detailed attempt to reexamine the events of particular battles, and it is in no sense comprehensive. Instead, it examines several of the best known "last stands" (as wel ...more
Daniel Walton
Jan 06, 2021 rated it liked it
A bit disappointing, though an interesting read that skims a number of “last stands” (in a very loose sense) in military history, with many interjections of commentary in relation to modern ideals. The main problems: tries too hard to sound academic at high cost to readability, and is very stylistic in applying the lessons from history to modern problems. I don’t necessarily disagree with his sentiments, but they are often not presented coherently or logically. The main sis, that manliness/honor ...more
Stuart Sullivan
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"Last Stands" is a fitting continuation of the themes the author elaborates in his previous two books, "The Devil's Pleasure Palace" and "The Fiery Angel". The Heroic Ideal and the Warrior Mythos are examined at depth from a historical perspective of battles, some memorialized in films, others little known outside the local region or ethnic lore. The thesis is the continuation of the title, “Why Men Fight When All Is Lost”. While the previous works focused on classical music and literature, eac ...more
Urey Patrick
Walsh has chosen thirteen 'last stands' and devotes a chapter to each in an interesting, and provocative commentary on war, culture, and concepts of honor, duty, family and courage. In each chapter, he briefly narrates the facts of the specific battle itself, putting it into a broader context of the greater conflict in which it occurred, and in the process deflating some myths and conventional wisdoms along the way (for example, The Song of Roland so foundational to the concept of French nationh ...more
Jim D
Apr 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Four and a half to five stars!!! An absolutely superb and easy to read military history focusing on famous last stands over the millennia. From ancient Greece to the Chosin reservoir the author covers famous battles over two millennia. He gives a detailed overview of the last stand battles, as well as the social and political circumstances surrounding the combatants. I was extremely pleased that the author used each of these battles to form a thread through his point of "why men fight when all ...more
Debbie Cowman
Mar 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
I don't remember where I heard the recommendation for this book, but my library hold brought it back to my attention. This was a challenging read--it is not often I encounter words I don't know, but this book had me reaching or wishing for a dictionary almost every other page. Other than helping give a context to many of these famous battles and learning about many others I had not heard of, my biggest takeaway is this quote: "in a strong, self-confident culture, the past guides the present into ...more
D Sherrod
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is packed with valuable information from a very pro-Western Civilization perspective. However, the author does not gloss over discrepancies or make history a solid black/white, good/evil paradigm. History is certainly not black and white, it gets muddied more often than not. I strongly recommend this book as it demonstrates through example and philosophically why men of continue to fight with the full knowledge that all is lost.
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a good book, and could have been 5 stars . . . there's just something missing. It has a point of view, as do all history books, and is not shy about it. But it's not always clear on what it is arguing. At least not clear to me. Like a good teacher, perhaps, leaving the conclusions to the reader. I recommend it. ...more
Thomas Macleod
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Good book, the introduction is the most important part. In it he sums up very well the point he intends to make and defend through the rest of the book. Why men throughout history have been willing to fight even when their death was certain, or nearly certain. And why we still need men with that same courage in today’s increasingly feminized society.
Don Domine
Mar 14, 2021 rated it liked it
This was a somewhat unique book for me, not the basic military historical analysis I was expecting. This book was more of a psychological look at why men fight when it appears all is lost. I found the examples used by the author to be quite interesting.
Bob Colvin
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent discussion of essential masculinity and the human condition. Pair it with On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and you take a deep dive into men in combat. Not for the faint of heart. Highly recommend.
Nicole Grey
Mar 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Book

If you are looking for a book to make you think...this book is for you. Read it in 3 days. Great history book.
Interesting in parts but stretched the idea of a Last Stand too broadly IMO.

I generally skipped the historical background of which I was aware
Corey Bourne
Mar 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great book start to finish. Everyone who has any interest in war should read this anyone who is interested in why we fight should too.
Glenn Wilson
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Quite insightful about the warrior ethos and historical examples.
Lucas Maas
Mar 04, 2021 rated it liked it
I personally expected a more psychological approach on why men fight to the death when both hope and victory have left the realm of possibility. That is where this book was lacking. Walsh flaunts his knowledge of military history that exceeds multiple eras from across the globe. An interesting read if the reader wishes to get an in-depth look into some of the most infamous last stands in history dating back to before the Ancient Greeks and up until the Korean War. Walsh also tackles issues of fe ...more
Drew Davidson
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book was really interesting. It was a higher level read but I learned a lot from it. I thought the highlights of the different battles was really cool way to write a book. I have never read a book like this one but I really enjoyed this one.
Thomas E Baldwin
rated it really liked it
Jan 15, 2021
rated it it was amazing
Jan 21, 2021
Art Callaham
rated it it was amazing
Feb 13, 2021
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Michael Walsh was for 16 years the classical music critic for Time Magazine and has also worked for the San Francisco Examiner and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. He is the author of eleven books, including five works of non-fiction as well as the novels Exchange Alley, As Time Goes By (the authorized sequel to the movie Casablanca), and And All the Saints, a winner of the 2004 American Book A ...more

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