I just finished reading the book from Victor Davis Hanson entitled, “Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power”. The basic premise of his story is that Western civilization has prevailed in numerous battles over the past 2500 years. Hanson emphasizes that the cornerstones of this success are based on the inherent Western values of individualism and liberty.
I’m a big fan of Hanson’s commentaries on current events and methods of warfare, and it was that basis that drove me to purchase and read this book. I’m not certain what motivated Hanson to write this tome, other than the fact that he’s a military historian and this subject would appear to be the core of his research.
Hanson uses examples from history to provide a fact-base for Western success. These example battles range from the Battle of Salamis (Greeks and Persians), to the more recent Battle of Midway (United States and Japan) and the Tet Offensive (United States and Viet Nam).
After reading this book, I’m still not certain of the ideal audience. For example, the warfare enthusiasts can find plenty of alternatives that get into much greater detail about the tactics and weapons. Meanwhile, the political science reader would probably find the deep discussions about battles a little mind-numbing.