Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World

James Lacey and Williamson Murray. Bantam, $30 (496p) ISBN 978-0-345-52697-7
In this modern version of Sir Edward Creasy’s The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World (1851), defense analysts and professors Lacey and Murray lay out the long-term strategic and cultural consequences of 20 major battles. Ranging from antiquity to today, and from the well-known to the obscure, the battles of Marathon (490 B.C.E.), Yarmuk (636 C.E.), Vicksburg (1863), Kursk (1943), and Operation Iraqi Freedom’s Objective Peach (2003) all get their due. The authors deftly interweave combat summaries (supplemented with detailed maps) with discussions of strategy, and they defend their inclusion of lesser-known battles with convincing evidence—they credit “Swedish administrative reforms” during the Battle of Breitenfeld (1631) for paving the way for “the maintenance of large peacetime forces,” and attribute the ascendancy of Great Britain to two battles fought against France in 1759—“the year of miracles.” Commentary on the conflicts runs the gamut from pop culture asides (as when the authors liken a retreat to “the modus operandi of Monty Python’s knights: ‘Run away, run away...’ ”) to breathless praise for strategic acumen (“Grant’s campaign against Vicksburg was the foremost example of operational art”). Engaging, well written, and thoroughly researched, this book will appeal to amateur and professional historians alike. 50 b&w photos, 18-20 maps. Agent: Eric Lupfer, WME Entertainment. (May 21)
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 05/21/2013
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