Two modern masters of military history make their case for the twenty most pivotal battles of all time, in a riveting trip through the ages to those moments when the fate of the world hung in the balance.
In the grand tradition of Edward Creasy’s classic Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, James Lacey and Williamson Murray spotlight only those engagements that changed the course of civilization. In gripping narrative accounts they bring these conflicts and eras to vivid life, detailing the cultural imperatives that led inexorably to the battlefield, the experiences of the common soldiers who fought and died, and the legendary commanders and statesmen who matched wits, will, and nerve for the highest possible stakes.
From the great clashes of antiquity to the high-tech wars of the twenty-first century, here are the stories of the twenty most consequential battles ever fought, including
• Marathon, where Greece’s “greatest generation” repelled Persian forces three times their numbers—and saved Western civilization in its infancy
• Adrianople, the death blow to a disintegrating Roman Empire
• Trafalgar, the epic naval victory that cemented a century of British supremacy over the globe
• Saratoga, the first truly American victory, won by united colonial militias, which ensured the ultimate triumph of the Revolution
• Midway, the ferocious World War II sea battle that broke the back of the Japanese navy
• Dien Bien Phu, the climactic confrontation between French imperial troops and Viet Minh rebels that led to American intervention in Vietnam and marked the rise of a new era of insurgent warfare
• Operation Peach, the perilous 2003 mission to secure a vital bridge over the Euphrates River that would open the way to Baghdad
Historians and armchair generals will argue forever about which battles have had the most direct impact on history. But there can be no doubt that these twenty a...
James Lacey is the author most recently of The First Clash, about the battle of Marathon, and is a widely published defense analyst who has written for Time, National Review, Foreign Affairs, and other publications. He currently teaches at the Marine Corps War College and Georgetown University.
Williamson Murray is the author of a wide selection of articles and books, including, with Allan R. Millett, the acclaimed A War to Be Won, an operational history of World War II, and has held numerous distinguished academic chairs. He is presently a defense analyst at the Potomac Institute and teaches at the Naval War College.
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