“Juvenalian ridicule, Ciceronian argument, and Cato-like censure animate a lively defense of the deadest of dead languages and dead white European males. Cynicism, skepticism, and invective are all Greek and Latin concepts, as Hanson and Heath remind their readers while ruthlessly employing the same in this debate over the decline and fall of Classics. Killing off Homer and the teaching thereof, they argue in their impassioned philippic, was ‘an inside job by elite philologists and of the present age.’ …Hanson and Heath are not so much right-wing revisionists as passionate Hellenists whose belief in Greece and Rome’s central role in Western civilization is fervent and articulate. Writing against the multicultural grain, they stress the unique aspects of Greek and Roman society, e.g., the idea of open dissent in the polis and the concept of civilian militias and citizen-soldiers, and maintain the continued importance of THE ILIAD and THE ODYSSEY…. An elegy that slaughters a hecatomb of sacred cows along the way.”—Kirkus Reviews, February, 1998
Winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award for Non-Fiction 1996
“Hanson’s memoir, informed by almost three thousand years of Western history, is passionate, confrontational, and bracingly apocalyptic. As the era of the family farm ends, perhaps it is true that a certain strain of rural literature where life and death are at issue and drama are hardly mitigated by culture, is also ending. If so, FIELDS WITHOUT DREAMS is a fitting valedictory work …[Hanson] writes like a Greek, with hubris, pursuit by Furies, fate, and tragic irony in full measure…. He’s a writer as much as a farmer. His memoir is complex—passionate, angry, honest, scorching…. The book deserves a wide audience. His tale is suspenseful, even though the outcome, as in a tragedy, is a foregone conclusion. He’s a good storyteller and a complex man, and his Greek-inspired rhetoric is a bracing departure from the agronomy-speak that has eviscerated discussion of these issues.”—Jane Smiley, The New Yorker
“…astute, often bitterly funny.”—The New York Times Book Review
“So detailed, so angry and funny, that it will surely find a lasting readership.”—Bill McKibben, The New York Review of Books
“A vivid work that on the whole is more honest about people who live on the land than any of recent vintage. FIELDS WITHOUT DREAMS is a deadly serious book, but it is enormously entertaining as well.”—The Weekly Standard
“[A] beautiful, combative elegy for the beleaguered family farmer…. FIELDS WITHOUT DREAMS is the best written, most shrewdly observed account of the farmer’s world to appear in some time…. Hanson’s voice is by turns scabrous and compassionate, as resolute in the depiction of villainy as it is heartbreakingly eloquent in its descriptions of physical labor and human virtue…. With this masterpiece of a book, we have, finally, an American Hesiod.”—The Sunday Oregonian
New York Times Extended Best Seller
“A provocative look at occidental aggression…precise, forceful writing, sets it apart from the season’s secondary–sourced, battle–baseed military histories. Hanson’s direct, literate style and his evenhandedness should appeal to the liberalist middle of the left and right alike. By isolating the ingredients of military success via elaborate examples, the book can potentially draw on two separate military–history readerships: those looking for theory and those looking for action.”—Publishers Weekly
“This is a brash book, purveying a refreshing brand of intellectual and political self–confidence…. At the heart of this big, combative and gutsy book there is an argument which is powerful and convincing.”—The Sunday Telegraph (London)
This is a brilliant history of the rise to dominance of the West, exploring the links between cultural values and military success. Instead of weighing up the West through its cultural and literary accomplishments, Hanson engages with the much starker record of the Western battlefield. In place of The Great Books, he studies The Great Battles, and offers graphic representations of nine representative clashes between West and non-West. Hanson writes uncommonly well about battle, and has an uncanny ability to evoke the chaos and terror of warfare, so crystallising his argument into records of a few hours of intense combat.
Hanson argues that the West has won not just because of technology and military might, but because of its focus on individualism, democratic political structures, and scientific rationalism. However this is no mere Eurocentric account of the steady millennia-long rise of Western power. Rather, it is an explanation of why the West finds itself now militarily unmatched, its values spreading around the globe – sometimes with devastating effects on local cultures which have at times adopted the worst of what European traditions have offered or imposed.
This brilliant account covers a millennium of Greek warfare. With specially commissioned battle maps and vivid illustrations, Victor Davis Hanson takes the reader into the heart of Greek warfare, classical beliefs, and heroic battles. This colorful portrait of ancient Greek culture explains why their approach to fighting was so ruthless and so successful.
- Development of the Greek city-state and the rivalries of Athens and Sparta.
- Rise of Alexander the Great and the Hellenization of the Western world.
- Famous thinkers—Sophocles, Socrates, Demosthenes—who each faced his opponent in battle, armed with spear and shield.
- Unsurpassed military theories that still influence the structure of armies and the military today.
In his acclaimed collection An Autumn of War, the scholar and military historian Victor Davis Hanson expressed powerful and provocative views of September 11 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan. Now, in these challenging new essays, he examines the world’s ongoing war on terrorism, from America to Iraq, from Europe to Israel, and beyond.
In direct language, Hanson portrays an America making progress against Islamic fundamentalism but hampered by the self-hatred of elite academics at home and the cynical self-interest of allies abroad. He sees a new and urgent struggle of evil against good, one that can fail only if “we convince ourselves that our enemies fight because of something we, rather than they, did.”
Whether it’s a clear-cut defense of Israel as a secular democracy, a denunciation of how the U.N. undermines the U.S., a plea to drastically alter our alliance with Saudi Arabia, or a perception that postwar Iraq is reaching a dangerous tipping point, Hanson’s arguments have the shock of candor and the fire of conviction.
“Victor Hanson is a national treasure. No one has written with such great prescience about the present war or more accurately predicted the course of events, on the fighting front, at home, and around the world. His wisdom arises from a deep knowledge and understanding of history, ancient and modern. His uncanny accuracy in prediction comes from a full and clear grasp of the facts and the application to them of an informed understanding of human nature and the character of war. All this he presents in clear, vigorous and eloquent prose. Every American needs to learn him.”—Donald Kagan, author of ON THE ORIGINS OF WAR AND THE PRESERVATION OF PEACE
“Bold and politically incorrect, AN AUTUMN OF WAR is like a breath of fresh air in pointing to the real causes of terrorist outrages and the need for a decisive response.”—Richard Pipes, author of THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION
“The aftermath of September 11 saw Victor Davis Hanson’s emergence as a national scholarly resource. These essays tear through the self–doubt and defeatism to which many of his fellow academics succumbed. Reading these pieces as they came out, I felt less lonely about our historical situation. Through vast references to classical and modern history, Hanson shows that the War on Terrorism is part of a long sotry of the West’s struggle against barbarism.”—Robert D. Kaplan, author of WARRIOR POLITICS
“Together with John Keegan, [Hanson] is our most interesting historian of war.”—Jean Bethke Elshtain, author of WOMEN AND WAR