Synopses & Reviews
In Masters of Command, historian Barry Strauss compares how the three greatest generals of the ancient world waged war and draws lessons from their experiences that work both on and off the battlefield.
Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar. Each was a master of war. Each had to look beyond the battlefield to decide whom to fight and why; to know what victory was and when to end the war; to determine how to bring stability to the lands he conquered. Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar had to be not only generals but statesmen. And yet each was a battlefield commander, a strategist, a leader of men—in short, a warrior.
Tactics change, weapons change, but the ultimate purpose of war remains much the same through the centuries, and a great warrior must know how to measure success. Publishers Weekly said: “No one presents the military history of the ancient world with greater insight and panache than Barry Strauss,” and in Masters of Command he shows what these three great commanders can teach us today about ambition, leadership, branding, and more.
Understanding where Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar succeeded and failed can serve anyone who thinks strategically—whether in business or more generally—to analyze his or her actions. Masters of Command is a guidebook for the battlefield and the board room alike.
"Celebrated and larger-than-life military heroes and captivating masters of political intrigue, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar, each developed reputations as master strategists and commanding battlefield generals. As Cornell University classicist Strauss (The Trojan War) deftly points out in this entertaining set of stories, each of the three leaders was not only a field commander but also a statesman. Retelling their lives in rich detail, Strauss compares and contrasts how each man successfully navigated the five phases of war attack, resistance, clash, closing the net, and knowing when to stop and why they failed in their ultimate goals. Although, Strauss says, Hannibal was the worst strategist, he was the greatest commander on and off the field; Alexander negotiated the phases of war brilliantly, but failed to lay the foundations for a successful, stable postwar empire; Caesar had deep insight into the stages of war, and although often arrogant as a postwar leader, he came the closest to great statesmanship, fostering good relations among former enemies and friends. Strauss identifies 10 qualities some admirable, some not so admirable that underlay their success, such as ambition, judgment, audacity, inspiring terror, and belief in 'divine providence.' 8 pages of photos, 6 maps. Agent: Cathy Hemmings, Cathy Hemmings Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Barry Strauss has done it again: Masters of Command
combines the timeless wisdom of the classical world with the urgent realities of modern warfare. This is a stunning handbook to leadership—both on and off the battlefield.”
—Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer
“Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar—this is a book on leadership like no other. A rare combination of stirring dialogue, masterful ancient scholarship and sage advice—both lessons and warnings. Just as Asian corporate planners read Sun Tzu, Western entrepreneurs and strategic thinkers will want to read Masters of Command
—Robert L. O’Connell, author of The Ghosts of Cannae: Hannibal and the Darkest Hour of the Roman Republic
“With Masters of Command
, Barry Strauss further establishes himself as one of our premier historians of the classical world. Steeped in ancient learning and gifted with a clear, accessible writing style, he is able to shed new light on three of the most famous generals in history: Alexander, Hannibal and Caesar, teasing out fresh meaning and original insights from their epic tales of conquest and failure. There are lessons here not only for budding military strategists but also for ‘great captains’ of the boardroom. . . . A crackling good read.”
—Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, The Council on Foreign Relations, and author of War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today
“Barry Strauss has written a riveting, fast-paced, penetrating volume around three powerful war leaders—Alexander the Great, Hannibal and Caesar. While other classicists draw on ancient philosophers for lessons on the life well lived, Professor Strauss looks to men of action and determination for lessons on leadership and strategy. It’s a great read, packed with terrific insights.”
"Military historian Strauss cleverly exposes the characters of three legendary leaders through the five stages of war: attack, resistance, clash, closing the net and knowing when to stop. . . . Strauss sharpens our image of three brilliant commanders and makes military history great fun."
"Barry Strauss has no superior and few counterparts as a scholar of ancient military history and a student of war."
—Dennis Showalter, former president, Society for Military History
In Masters of Command,
Barry Strauss compares the way the three greatest generals of the ancient world—Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar—waged war and draws lessons from their experiences that apply on and off the battlefield.
Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar—each was a master of war. Each had to look beyond the battlefield to decide whom to fight, when, and why; to know what victory was and when to end the war; to determine how to bring stability to the lands he conquered. Each general had to be a battlefield tactician and more: a statesman, a strategist, a leader.
Tactics change, weapons change, but war itself remains much the same throughout the centuries, and a great warrior must know how to define success. Understanding where each of these three great (but flawed) commanders succeeded and failed can serve anyone who wants to think strategically or has to demonstrate leadership. In Masters of Command, Barry Strauss explains the qualities these great generals shared, the keys to their success, from ambition and judgment to leadership itself.
The result of years of research, Masters of Command is based on surviving written documents and archeological evidence as well as the authors travels in Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, and Tunisia in the footsteps of Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar.
About the Author
Barry Strauss, professor of history and classics at Cornell University, is a leading expert on ancient military history. He has written or edited several books, including The Battle of Salamis, The Trojan War, and The Spartacus War.