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Beach Reading…



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…(especially if your beach is the site of an amphibious landing).

Thanks to Kathryn and the gang for letting me play in their sandbox for the summer.

Even before Terry touted a book, I was planning on saying how much I am enjoying and learning from VDH’s Culture and Carnage: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power. Hanson’s thesis is that one reason the West has proven so dominant is that its cultural traditions of individualism, property rights, freedom, and democratic accountability have resulted in its ability to kill far more effectively than its rivals. Each chapter is like a short novella on a major battle, with all the grisly details. These stories of military prowess and carnage are gripping, as well as a great intro into Western History. Here’s just a taste from the intro, “Why the West has Won”:

There is an inherent truth in battle. It is hard to disguise the verdict of the battlefield, and nearly impossible to explain away the dead, or to suggest that abject defeat was somehow victory. Wars are the sum of battles, battles the tally of individual human beings killing and dying. . . . To speak of war in any other fashion brings with it a sort of immorality: the idea that when hit, soldiers simply go to sleep, rather than are shredded, that generals order impersonal battalions and companies of automatons into the heat of battle, rather than screaming nineteen-year-olds into clouds of gas and sheets of lead bullets, or that a putrid corpse has little to do with larger approaches to science
and culture.

I could say more, but this is already running a bit long for The Corner and don’t want to get kicked out before I’ve even sat down.



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