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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Twenty Decisive Battles of the World by Lt. Col. Joseph B. Mitchell and Sir Edward Creasy



Interesting collection

Sir Edward Creasy published a book called Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: from Marathon to Waterloo in 1851. His original work was expanded in 1964 by Lt. Col. Mitchell in order to create Twenty Decisive Battles of the World. In some cases, Mitchell corrected factual errors in Creasy's original work that came to light since it was first written.

The main criteria for picking these twenty battles was that the battle had to have a lasting impact on the war it was a part of and also have a lasting impact on history. For example, the Confederate victory at the battle of Chancellorsville in the American Civil War was not chosen despite the fact that it was brilliantly fought by Robert E. Lee. The Confederacy went on to lose the war and the victory at Chancellorsville may have prolonged the war by a few months at most. On the other hand, Mitchell picked the Vicksburg campaign as a battle that was decisive in the history of the world because it spelled out the doom of the Confederacy in the West and led to the Grant's appointment as leader of all of the Union armies. A weakened United States (without the Confederate states) would not be as big a player in world politics as it is now so that victory had a lasting impact.


Francis Drake (ca. 1545-1596), 
victor over the Spanish Armada
The battles are:
-Marathon;
-Syracuse;
-Arbela;
-The Metaurus;
-Teutobarger Wald;
-Chalons;
-Tours;
-Hastings;
-Orleans;
-The Spanish Armada;
-Blenheim;
-Poltava;
-Saratoga;
-Valmy;
-Waterloo;
-Vicksburg;
-Sadowa;
-First Marne;
-Midway;
-Stalingrad.

Each chapter describes the situation before and after the battle and tells why this battle was so important, a hinge of history, so to speak. In some cases, there is a lot of detail about the battle itself, in some cases there is only some hazy detail to draw from so there is not much to tell. Clearly, this is a Eurocentric, or at least Western-based series of battles. Nothing from Asia or Africa unless a European/American force is fighting against them. This makes the basis for calling it Twenty Decisive Battles of the World pretty iffy, but these are certainly twenty well chosen battles that created the West.

I rate this history 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Twenty Decisive Battles of the World

Reviewed on August 4, 2011.

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