In Masters of Command, Barry Strauss compares the way the three greatest generals of the ancient world—Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar—waged war and draws lessons from their experiences that apply on and off the battlefield.
Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar—each was a master of war. Each had to look beyond the battlefield to decide whom to fight, when, and why; to know what victory was and when to end the war; to determine how to bring stability to the lands he conquered. Each general had to be a battlefield tactician and more: a statesman, a strategist, a leader.
Tactics change, weapons change, but war itself remains much the same throughout the centuries, and a great warrior must know how to define success. Understanding where each of these three great (but flawed) commanders succeeded and failed can serve anyone who wants to think strategically or has to demonstrate leadership. In Masters of Command, Barry Strauss explains the qualities these great generals shared, the keys to their success, from ambition and judgment to leadership itself.
The result of years of research, Masters of Command is based on surviving written documents and archeological evidence as well as the author’s travels in Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, and Tunisia in the footsteps of Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar.
Celebrated and larger-than-life military heroes and captivating masters of political intrigue, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar, each developed reputations as master strategists and commanding battlefield generals. As Cornell University classicist Strauss (The Trojan War) deftly points out in this entertaining set of stories, each of the three leaders was not only a field commander but also a statesman. Retelling their lives in rich detail, Strauss compares and contrasts how each man successfully navigated the five phases of war attack, resistance, clash, closing the net, and knowing when to stop and why they failed in their ultimate goals. Although, Strauss says, Hannibal was the worst strategist, he was the greatest commander on and off the field; Alexander negotiated the phases of war brilliantly, but failed to lay the foundations for a successful, stable postwar empire; Caesar had deep insight into the stages of war, and although often arrogant as a postwar leader, he came the closest to great statesmanship, fostering good relations among former enemies and friends. Strauss identifies 10 qualities some admirable, some not so admirable that underlay their success, such as ambition, judgment, audacity, inspiring terror, and belief in "divine providence." 8 pages of photos, 6 maps.