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Warfare in Antiquity: History of the Art of War, Volume 1: V. 1 (Twentieth Century Fund Book) [Paperback]

Hans Delbruck , Jr. Walter J. Renfroe
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 27.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 April 1990 Twentieth Century Fund Book
Hans Delbrück's four-volume History of the Art of War is recognized throughout the world as the definitive work on the subject. Appearing in an English-language paperback edition for the first time, volume 1 analyzes in vivid detail the military tactics and strategies used by the great warriors of antiquity. Delbrück disputes some points in classical history and separates fact from legend in his objective reconstruction of celebrated battles stretching from the Persian Wars to the Peloponnesian War, Alexander's campaign to conquer Asia, the Second Punic War and Hannibal's crossing of the Alps, and the triumph of the Roman legions and Julius Caesar. Walter J. Renfroe Jr. based his much-praised English translation on the third (1920) edition of volume 1.

Frequently Bought Together

Warfare in Antiquity: History of the Art of War, Volume 1: V. 1 (Twentieth Century Fund Book) + Medieval Warfare: History of the Art of War: v. 3 + The Dawn of Modern Warfare: 4 (History of the Art of War)
Price For All Three: 82.29

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press; New edition edition (1 April 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080329199X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803291997
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 14.9 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Delbruck is internationally regarded as the first modern military historian. History of the Art of War, considered a classic, is his foundational achievement. Renfroe's translation retains the spirited erudition of the original German and renders it into elegant and readable English. Beyond a doubt a landmark in twentieth-century historical literature."--Arden Bucholz, author of Hans Delbruck and the German Military Establishment "Undergraduates, military buffs, professional soldiers, as well as historians will all enjoy this readable and often elegant translation ... of a classic history... Highly recommended."--Choice "This intensive study will be useful for those familiar with the military and political history used by the author as background. In an excellent translation... Renfroe has pointed out the very rare errors or oversights within the body of the text; his highly readable translation manages to retain the flavor of the original."--Library Journal

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful historical guide 9 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I could practically exhaust every superlative in the english vocabulary in prescribing this set of books to anyone interested in understanding the shape of battles and the conflicts involved going back to the Greco-Persian Wars to the Napoleonic Wars. In each book, Delbrük, the consummate modern historian, laboriously constructs as accurate a mantle of the major battles of each conflict meticulously seperating propaganda and myth arriving at the available facts. Delbrück's history is definitely not the digest of novices, and his detached, pedantic scholarship can be overwhelming at times unless you have at least some familiarity with the subject matter. Nevertheless, his forensic masterpiece, really a very long treatise or series of treatise on the evolution of tactical bodies, are of an unparalleled stature, and his conclusions seem to still be in some contention today as they were a hundred years ago.
Or, at least, current textbooks have yet to catch up. Some histories still seem to follow Xenephon and Herodotus precisely, and I saw a documentary last year about Ceasar's campaign in Gaul that still portrayed the Romans at the siege of Alesia outnumbered 25 to 1 against the Celtic tribes.
Warfare in Antiquity, the first volume, is especially helpfull and stands next to my copies of Livy, Thucydides, Polybius, Herodotus, Arrian, etc. - all the classical histories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book on late Roman military history 8 July 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you are passionate about history or military history, and if you are keen to understand how the powerful Roman civilisation transitioned to a European feudal society, then this book is for you.
Hans Delbruck writes at the end of the 19th century and follows the steps of other excellent German historians such as Mommsen. The book, though, could well have been written yesterday. Delbruck's erudition is simply incredible, and the author's intimate knowledge of ancient languages, including old German, allowed him to systematically cross-check what little remains of manuscripts written between the 3rd and 6th century AD.
For the reader, the most enjoyable aspect of the narrative is perhaps that it goes right down to a level of details rarely seen in a history book. Following Delbruck's thread of reasoning you can well imagine how Roman legions lived and fought, and how German tribes were socially organised. You can also easily understand the process by which these formidable Roman legions slowly dissolved and how the German political, social and military systems progressively took over in the course of four centuries.
The topic itself is extremely complex, not least because of the scarcity of reliable contemporary testimonials. The legends and exagerated tales of huge German hordes crossing the Rhine to destroy a flourishing civilisation are nowadays so entrenched in our Western culture that it takes the patience and intelligence of someone like Delbruck to disentagle the facts.
Finally, be warned that this is no historical romance. Delbruck's style is as dry and precise as Germanic scientific litterature can be, and each section is followed by an Excursus in which the author argues around alternative theories.
Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Audacious Revisionist History- From the 19th Century! 12 Dec 2000
By Jonathan Leybovich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Hans Delbruck's "Warfare in Antiquity" is an amazing critical history. Amazing not only because of the startlingly original conclusions it draws, but also because, in the 100+ years since it was written, it still remains the best examination of the practice of ancient warfare.
Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that Delbruck, being a Prussian military officer, can instantly sniff out absurdities in the sources that most other historians just credulously accept. The best example of this is Polybius' description of Roman pre-cohort battle formations. According to Polybius, a legion would be arranged in checkerboard fashion so that, during crucial moments in the battle, rear lines of fresh troops could advance and continue the fight while soldiers in the front would withdraw to recuperate. More conscientious historians (see Osprey's "Armies of the Carthaginian Wars") have at least tried to address the problem of why an enemy wouldn't just pour through the gaps in the front line and attack the Romans in the flanks. Only Delbruck has been brave enough, though, to abandon any attempt to reconcile this fanciful description with military reality and argue that, instead of a fighting formation, Polybius' checkerboard square instead describes a pre-battle MARCH formation.
This is only one example of how Delbruck persuasively challenges classical warfare's conventional wisdom. He also argues that Darius' invading Persian army was no larger than the allied Greek one that ultimately defeated it at Marathon, that Caesar's brilliant conquest of Gaul was mostly the result of superior maneuverability and logistics, and that, far from regularly destroying barbarian armies more than five times their size, Roman legions could only achieve tactical parity with barbarians whose harsh living conditions made them naturally brave and cohesive warriors.
One need not accept all these conclusions (I myself am somewhat skeptical about the last one) to find much of value in this book. At the very least it will make one a more critical and active reader, able to question both less-than-stellar primary sources and the historians who over time have just parroted them.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally someone who set the record straight 17 April 2001
By Rodrigo Fenton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been reading both BH Liddel Hart's book on Strategy and JC Fuller's "Military History of the Western World" at the same time as Delbruck. While the first two books may be more valuable for someone searching a overview of ancient struggles, Delbruk's book shines in the description of ancient warfare.

Delbruk is brave enough to argue and discard many things that historians bypass or take as true, like the supposed numerical superiority of the Persians in their conflicts with the Greeks and Macedonians, the true use of elephants in battle or the way the ancient Roman maniples were an improvement to the phalanx. He practically rewrites many battles (Marathon, Salamis, Issus, Zama, Alesia), discarding absurd notions and finding a logical interpretation for the flow of the battle that would explain the outcome. I my opinion, he describes these battles much better than most other authors I've read (Including Herodotus himself).

As noted by other reviewers, you should have a general idea of the general history of the conflicts and their outcome, because Delbruk only discusses pure military aspects and not the background. This is not a book for beginers.

If you ever felt that the overwhelming numerical superiority of barbarian armies was a gross exaggeration or that Roman tactics seem absurd when explained by non-military historians, you MUST get this book.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book on late Roman military history 11 July 2000
By "manu_lalloz" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you are passionate about history or military history, and if you are keen to understand how the powerful Roman civilisation transitioned to a European feudal society, then this book is for you.
Hans Delbruck writes at the end of the 19th century and follows the steps of other excellent German historians such as Mommsen. The book, though, could well have been written yesterday. Delbruck's erudition is simply incredible, and the author's intimate knowledge of ancient languages, including old German, allowed him to systematically cross-check what little remains of manuscripts written between the 3rd and 6th century AD.
For the reader, the most enjoyable aspect of the narrative is perhaps that it goes right down to a level of details rarely seen in a history book. Following Delbruck's thread of reasoning you can well imagine how Roman legions lived and fought, and how German tribes were socially organised. You can also easily understand the process by which these formidable Roman legions slowly dissolved and how the German political, social and military systems progressively took over in the course of four centuries.
The topic itself is extremely complex, not least because of the scarcity of reliable contemporary testimonials. The legends and exagerated tales of huge German hordes crossing the Rhine to destroy a flourishing civilisation are nowadays so entrenched in our Western culture that it takes the patience and intelligence of someone like Delbruck to disentagle the facts.
Finally, be warned that this is no historical romance. Delbruck's style is as dry and precise as Germanic scientific litterature can be, and each section is followed by an Excursus in which the author argues around alternative theories.
Highly recommended.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Look at the Truth of Historical Warfare 17 Jan 2000
By James Richard C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I stumbled upon this book several years ago while doing research for a computer game concerning ancient warfare and was simply stunned by Delbruck's insights. He lays bare the truth behind the myths we've all grown up believing, and the result is something of an expose, providing such startling conclusions as the fact that the Greeks actually outnumbered the Persians at the battle of Marathon!
While much of Delbruck's writing seems to fly in the face of accepted convention, he does such a masterful job of backing up his conclusions with hard facts and indisputable logic that one is rapidly converted to his way of thinking. These books are a rarity in a society that still takes ancient history at face value: Delbruck digs deep to find the truth, and as a result these works (the entire series is fantastic) are vital reading for anyone interested in truly understanding the history of warfare. I can't reccommend these books highly enough.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful historical guide 9 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I could practically exhaust every superlative in the english vocabulary in prescribing this set of books to anyone interested in understanding the shape of battles and the conflicts involved going back to the Greco-Persian Wars to the Napoleonic Wars. In each book, Delbrük, the consummate modern historian, laboriously constructs as accurate a mantle of the major battles of each conflict meticulously seperating propaganda and myth arriving at the available facts. Delbrück's history is definitely not the digest of novices, and his detached, pedantic scholarship can be overwhelming at times unless you have at least some familiarity with the subject matter. Nevertheless, his forensic masterpiece, really a very long treatise or series of treatise on the evolution of tactical bodies, are of an unparalleled stature, and his conclusions seem to still be in some contention today as they were a hundred years ago.
Or, at least, current textbooks have yet to catch up. Some histories still seem to follow Xenephon and Herodotus precisely, and I saw a documentary last year about Ceasar's campaign in Gaul that still portrayed the Romans at the siege of Alesia outnumbered 25 to 1 against the Celtic tribes.
Warfare in Antiquity, the first volume, is especially helpfull and stands next to my copies of Livy, Thucydides, Polybius, Herodotus, Arrian, etc. - all the classical histories.
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