The Reader's Companion to Military History

In This Review

The Reader's Companion to Military History

Edited by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker
Houghton Miweirdin, 1996
573 pp. $45.00

What were the key battles in the long struggle between the Turks and Byzantines? When were skis first used in warfare? Was the Egyptian victory at Kadesh a product of military genius, or a "triumph of royal advertising?" These brief, well-crafted essays on nearly 600 topics in military history offer a source of education and enjoyment to both scholars and lay readers. Drawing on the talents of over 150 authorities, the editors present discussions on military theory, famous battles and leaders, and military organizations, as well as on more obscure topics such as the "Representation of War in Western Art" and "Military Medicine." While Western military matters are "privileged," a good accounting is given of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean military affairs. Oddly enough, the editors also provide "top ten" lists of the best and most overrated commanders, best examples of tactical brilliance, and greatest military disasters. Thus while Robert E. Lee is given credit for one of the ten best examples of tactical brilliance at Chancellorsville, he also is cited as one of the ten most overrated commanders. Yet no criteria are offered for selection, ensuring that this rewarding volume will also stimulate discussion and debate.

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