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Monday, May 25, 2015

A History of Strategy chapter 2

A History of Strategy chapter 2.

If you want to get caught up and take the first one, you can find it here. If you still haven't picked up a copy of the book, A History of Strategy is now available in hardcover for $14.99 as well as in Kindle format.

Discuss the quiz and the chapter in the comments below; don't check out the comments before you take the quiz.

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31 Comments:

Blogger Underwater Operative May 25, 2015 12:12 PM  

Good chapter. I came away wanting to read more about Strategamata and Epitoma.

Blogger VD May 25, 2015 12:13 PM  

In case you haven't picked it up, Frontinus is all over A THRONE OF BONES.

Blogger Underwater Operative May 25, 2015 12:59 PM  

That's good to know.

Thanks to van Creved's excellent resource at the back of the book, I'll be picking up Frontinus, Julius Sextus, Strategamata, London, Loeb Classical Library, Heinemann, 1950.

I'll read it this fall followed by a re-read of AToB in preperation for AoDaL.

Are you still on track with the release date?

Anonymous zen0 May 25, 2015 1:01 PM  

@ Underwater Operative

> I came away wanting to read more about Strategamata and Epitoma.


Vegetius: Epitome of Military Science

Strategem and the Vocabulary of Military Trickery


Why not Strategikon - S Forgotten Military Classic?
van Creveld thinks highly of it.

Blogger Salt May 25, 2015 1:05 PM  

4/10 I cannot remember these dang names or keep them straight.

Blogger Underwater Operative May 25, 2015 1:12 PM  

@Zen0 Thanks for the links. I'd love to read more about Strategikon given time.

I esp loved this gem,

“the light-haired races place great value on freedom. They are bold and undaunted in battle; daring and impetuous as they are, they consider any timidity and even a short retreat as a disgrace.” However, “they are hurt by suffering and fatigue… [as well as] heat, cold, rain, lack of provisions (especially of wine) and postponement of battle.” Therefore, “in warring against them one must avoid engaging in pitched battles, especially in the early stages. But do make use of well-planned ambushes, sneak attacks, and stratagems.”

Blogger VD May 25, 2015 1:13 PM  

4/10 I cannot remember these dang names or keep them straight.

So take it again. That's part of the purpose. You should be able to distinguish between Strategikon, Strategemata, and Strategikos at a bare minimum. Maurice, Frontinus, Onasander.

Blogger Rantor May 25, 2015 1:49 PM  

9/10, I did review the reading as I first read it last week. That helped. Interestingly, despite having graduated from the Air Command and Staff College and Air War College, and having a MA in Int'l Relations/Strategic Studies, I was totally unfamiliar with these Western strategists. These programs concentrated on Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, Jomini, and Mahan. (And had a few books by Van Creveld as texts). Will also add Frontinus to my reading list.



Anyway, thanks for running this. May even get the hard back...

Anonymous Roundtine May 25, 2015 2:01 PM  

6/10

I was totally unfamiliar with these Western strategists

After reading the chapter, I'm not sure that's a major negative. I was surprised how many years were crossed in one chapter.

Blogger Guderian May 25, 2015 3:56 PM  

9/10

Took the test right after re-reading the chapter, still confused "expostulatory chants" and "narrative songs", most likely due to leaning too heavily on the "chansons" and "chants" cognates.

I actually came away from A Throne of Bones wanting to read Vegetius rather than Frontinus (which I did). I suppose that was due to the concrete nature of Vegetius' suggestions (building a fort every night on the march, wide use of slingshots since they are light and easy to carry - that's the sort of min-maxing philosophy of use I expect from contemporary gear reviewers like Nutnfancy). Those elements were more visible to me than the elements derived from Frontinus, which I suppose would be clever tactics and therefore somewhat more abstract. His work stood out to me the first time I read this chapter, so I'll probably pick him up now as well.

I think it's interesting how often the Byzantines and their stand-ins seem to be glossed over or ignored in medieval fantasies. Qarth in A Song of Ice and Fire supposedly stands for Constantinople, though its similarity only extends to "wealthy walled city in the south-east", losing the more significant elements of being the heir of Rome and the seat of Orthodox Christianity, along with its more interesting elements like pioneering foreign intelligence services. Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings was also purported to be a stand-in for Constantinople, which follows Tolkien's more all-encompassing vision of Europe. To my knowledge The Blade Itself lacks a Constantinople analog, though arguably Dagoska plays a similar role, despite being more like a fortified trading outpost than the independent seat of a vast and ancient empire. The Old Empire has more Roman elements, but is on the wrong side of the world and lacks the "shield against the Arab/Turk/Muslim/Orc/etc" element present in Minas Tirith in LOTR and Constantinople in reality. The Wheel of Time has regions like Shienar that play this role, but they lay in the north and have more Japanese elements, which follows from Jordan's multi-culti flip-flop theory of worldbuilding that throws existing cultures into a blender and spits out fictional cultures that I can only vaguely differentiate years later.

Perhaps it's an English thing, though that doesn't stop Rome from showing up in movies and HBO tv shows (though often with English accents).

Are the Byzantines just less interesting? Are their accomplishments less than the Romans? Is it a Western opposition to Cesaropapism? Do we not consider them part of "us" for geographic or cultural reasons even though we Westerners usually include the Levantine Israelites and the pagan, slave-owning Greeks and Romans? I suppose it could be due to the American love of winners: the Byzantines ultimately lost to Muslim Turks, who are indubitably an Other to the West, whereas Rome lost to Germanic barbarians, who are part of "us", so it doesn't really count (Rome is still arguably the seat of organized Christianity, after all, while the Hagia Sophia has placards in Arabic dominating its interior).

Blogger Mr.MantraMan May 25, 2015 4:09 PM  

70% I tend to take tactics for granted so I basically took this chapter lightly. Thanks for doing this

Blogger Derrick Bonsell May 25, 2015 4:52 PM  

OT, but Guderian I have a story that's sitting around BASED upon the Byzantines if that's worth anything to you. I just keep setting it aside instead of working on it. I am under no illusion that I'm even a competent writer however.

Anonymous MendoScot May 25, 2015 5:12 PM  

10/10

I wasn't so cocky this time - I almost went wrong on 1 and 10, but backed off and thought about it.

In case you haven't picked it up, Frontinus is all over A THRONE OF BONES.

Yes, I did wonder, given MvC's description. Does Onasander appear in SE? I picked up Oxonius, but there was another back reference that I didn't know.

For organization - is it going to be 1 chapter each week? I'm trying to get through the Hugo packet, so this one rather took me by surprise.

Blogger VD May 25, 2015 5:17 PM  

For organization - is it going to be 1 chapter each week?

Yes. The next one is Saturday, 30 May. That's the idea, anyhow.

Blogger maniacprovost May 25, 2015 5:26 PM  

5/10. The good news is, my dragon type is "Water Dragon."

This was my least favorite chapter since what I got out of it was that western strategic thought was purely a collection of minutiae for 1000 years. Move along.

"Who in the whole of history can equal an Alexander, a Hannibal, a Scipio, or a Caesar?"

And yet, rather than describe the strategies these military leaders employed, Van Creveld focuses on the mundane texts which were written in the same time period, because his subject is not really the history of military strategy. It's the history of military strategy texts. The only one that it interested me in is Frontinus' lost work.

Anonymous RTaylor FM0362 May 25, 2015 5:38 PM  

10/10 ... apparently after all these years of struggling with tests and overthinking every answer - assuming every question to be a trick question - I have discovered that being ill, half delirious, and running a fever is my key to success. Admittedly, I also skimmed thru it again just before taking the test this time.

Anonymous JD May 25, 2015 5:54 PM  

9/10
Got my names mixed up on who Machiavelli considered indispensable.

Anonymous Disoccidented May 25, 2015 6:03 PM  

10/10

Almost feel like I don't deserve credit for the Machiavelli question. I really wanted to choose Vegetius.

My favorite part of the chapter was the opening, where van Creveld praised Thucydides, Sallust, Caesar and Josephus as military historians. I didn't make it all the way through History of the Peloponnesian War during its Voxiversity run. I should go back and finish it. I have no idea who Sallust is, but I'll go look him up. Caesar is now tagged as a possibly worth some attention in the future. The big takeaway, though, is that I'm going to pick up Josephus in the very near future. He has been on the "of possible future interest" list for a while given that his writings intersect with early Christianity.

Anonymous Disoccidented May 25, 2015 6:32 PM  

Typos & errors:

"The last one is Vegetius who must have written at the very end of the fourth century AD. Judging by the examples which he does and does not adduce."

I believe "Judging" should not be capitalized.

"Asclepiodotus, who flourished around the middle of the first century BC,"

On my kindle, it looks like there is a space missing between "Asclepiodotus," and "who".

"Part 4, which seems to be tagged on by another writer, discusses fortifications and naval warfare"

Should "tagged on" be "tacked on?" "tagged on" doesn't sound legit to my ears.

Anonymous Disoccidented May 25, 2015 6:40 PM  

"fishermen, fowlers, confectioners, weavers and all those who appear to have been engaged in occupations appropriate to women should not, in my opinion, be allowed near the barracks"

I'll have you know that I was a very manly fisherman.

Blogger jSinSaTx May 25, 2015 7:44 PM  

My thoughts is that there was always a division between East and West. Byzantium was identified as the East. The development arc was different. Similar to why Russia is rarely considered European even though populated by whites.

The west wound up being populated by individuals/nations who utilized languages based on Latin and Germanic tongues. Byzantium eventually returned to Greek. Western political development followed from the devolution of the western Roman Empire. It followed the Roman Catholic tradition. Language, religion, ethnic background and geography are big hurdles to clear.

jSinSaTx

Blogger Alia D. May 25, 2015 8:43 PM  

8/10

Interesting how much of Byzantine culture we have lost.\ to this day, as I already knew that Medieval Europe wasn't able to access much of that culture, even as they were in its shadow.

Anonymous zen0 May 25, 2015 10:10 PM  

@ Underwater Operative

Therefore, “in warring against them one must avoid engaging in pitched battles, especially in the early stages. But do make use of well-planned ambushes, sneak attacks, and stratagems.”

I wondered if that qualified as 4G or not.

Meanwhile, also in regard to the above, W.S. Lind has Thisup .

I recently received a copy of a brilliant after-action report, written by a Marine company commander and based on the lessons his company learned in Afghanistan. I will not name him here, because in the U.S. military no intellectual attainment goes unpunished.

Anonymous zen0 May 25, 2015 10:12 PM  

Screwed up the link.

Lessons Learned?

Anonymous AlteredFate May 26, 2015 12:46 AM  

7/10. Not a great performance. Sadly I missed the question on attention to detail and it proved to be prophetic. Reading the next chapter three times through.

Anonymous Clay May 26, 2015 12:52 AM  

OK. I didn't try to go in to the comments section, but, the link you have available keeps asking if I want to sign-up for some kind of an online college degree....is it just my computer?

Anonymous zen0 the Concerned May 26, 2015 6:09 AM  

> OK. I didn't try to go in to the comments section,

If you mean the one at proprofs, no one goes there.
Just hit the big blue button that says S T A R T under the picture of the guy on a horse.

Anonymous zen0 May 26, 2015 7:20 AM  

@ maniacprovost

And yet, rather than describe the strategies these military leaders employed, Van Creveld focuses on the mundane texts which were written in the same time period, because his subject is not really the history of military strategy. It's the history of military strategy texts.

are you sure you don't mean "And yet, rather than describe the tactics these military leaders employed,..."

Blogger Matamoros May 26, 2015 6:35 PM  

Russia, zoopolitics, and information bombs

http://euromaidanpress.com/2015/05/26/russia-zoopolitics-and-information-bombs/

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Anonymous JRL June 01, 2015 11:30 PM  

Getting to this late - 10/10.

Always disappointing to hear about works lost to history.

Def. want to read more of "Maurice" and Frontinus.

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