Friday, July 25, 2008

Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power by Victor Davis Hanson

My review

Brave indeed is the academic prepared to take on the cultural relativists in todays academy, but Hanson, like the Westerner he is, suits up here for a massive ground assault straight up the gut. He will surely piss off the fashionably PC crowd who have been reared to despise just about anything Western simply with his first chapter heading, 'Why the West Won.' Based upon his observation that for over 2500 years, the chief military worry of Western armies has been other Western armies, Hanson goes on to explore exactly why that has been the case, arguing that cultural determinants, rather than say biological or topographical ones, have shaped the West into the most successful and, yes let's say it, superior fighting civilization.

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sobinator said...

i completely agree with the arguement that the west has won the war over military superiority.
Leaving the eastern cultures out of this statement, is that really a good thing??? Seriously, the claim is essentially saying, yes we've learned how to kill people better than the rest have. how glorious is that? Who wants to hang their hat on that claim? maybe there is a counter arguement, but honestly i dont think that so much time should be devoted to claiming dominance in something that basically can be summed up by the ability to kill one another. have we really forgotten the post-war sentiments of "why the f--k are we killing each other?" The study of war is invaluable, but lets try not to thump our chests on that achievement, especially with gun-slinging dumbasses at the helm of our countries.

Paddy said...

Unfortunately you are falling into the trap created by 40 years of a warped academy, i.e. confusing history (the explanation of change) with ethics or, even worse, a self-esteem building exercise. Neither Hanson nor I make any moral judgment about how 'right' or "glorious" such development was and nowhere does he thump his chest and say 'right on, let's go kick more ass.' This is a history that seeks to explain WHY the West has been so successful in making war. And by the way, I'd suggest that it was indeed a pretty damned good thing that the Franks won at Poitiers, that the Spanish and Venetian fleet was victorious at Lepanto, and that the United States defeated Japan, but let's not confuse historical argumentation with contemporary political/ideological debates over the Bush administration.