Ten major battles or campaigns that could have been won by using the principles of The Art of War.
Imagine the impact on world history if Robert E. Lee had listened to General Longstreet at Gettysburg and withdrawn to higher ground instead of sending Pickett uphill against the entrenched Union line. Or if Napolon, at Waterloo, had avoided mistakes he'd never made before. The advice that would have changed the outcome of these crucial battles is found in a book on strategy written centuries before Christ was born.
Lee, Napoleon, and Adolf Hitler never read Sun Tzu's The Art of War; the book only became widely available in the West in the mid-20th century. But as Bevin Alexander shows, Sun Tzu's maxims often boil down to common sense, in a particularly pure and clear form. The lessons of contemporary military practice, or their own experience, might have guided these commanders to success. It is stunning to see, however, the degree to which the precepts laid down 2,400 years ago apply to warfare of the modern era.
As a backdrop to this review I have read/listened to a number of books associated with each of the battles/wars described in this book bar the Korean War. Also I have read "The Art of War".
Given the above I was very much looking forward to listening to this book and gleaning some insights as to "what might have been". However, I felt disappointed as it is just too superficial and simplistic.
The book does not fully explore the reaction(s) to changes that could have been adopted by following the teachings of Sun Tzu. Battles can be like a game of chess, where once your opponent makes a move you need to consider and react to this whilst developing your own strategy to win. This kind of analysis is not sufficiently included for me. Instead it looks at some specific decisions, critiques it, uses the Sun Tzu philosophy, and describes what should have happened. As if that is the end of the story.
For every action there is a reaction.
Bevin Alexander concentrates on eight battles where better strategies or reactions by the men guiding their armies could have changed history. Warning for those of you have idolized Robert E Lee, he doesn't fare very well in this work; nor does George Washington for that matter. Using the works of Sun Tzu the author points out mistakes made by military leaders that cost battles, and or wars.
It's an interesting take on historical events; particularly the battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the American Civil War. I visited the sight and took the tour of the battlefield, and what Lee tried to accomplish there always confused me.
There are times when the audio version bogs down in detail that probably worked better in print. Still for those of you fascinated by military history this is a definite add to your collection.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
I've been an Audible member for many years, but this is the first review I've taken the time to write. This book explores how the principles of Sun Tzu were or were not followed in ten battles or campaigns in the last 200 years. It is fairly easy to follow, even without the maps in front of you which is not true for many narrated military histories
The narration is excellent, I highly recommend the narrator.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Definitely! The book is not only well written, it is well narrated, too!
Who was your favorite character and why?
All of the chapters were interesting, but perhaps Stonewall Jackson was the most exciting of the characters.
Have you listened to any of Edoardo Ballerini’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
No, I never have -- but his voice and inflection was perfect for the task.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes -- and will do so again!
Any additional comments?
My title says it all: it's one of the best books I've ever owned, and the fact that it is in audible form is perhaps the icing on the cake!
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Its a testament to numbers and resources. Otherwise we'd be using confederate dollars and all eating grits for breakfast... maybe even a better government, who knows.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful