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Famous Battles and How They Shaped the Modern World c.1200 BCE – 1302 CE (Hardback)

From Troy to Courtrai

Ancient History Military

By Beatrice Heuser, Athena S Leoussi
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 197
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781473893733
Published: 3rd August 2018



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Why are some battles remembered more than others? Surprisingly, it is not just size that matters, nor the number of dead, the ‘decisiveness’ of battles or their effects on communities and civilisations. It is their political afterlife – the multiple meanings and political uses attributed to them – that determines their fame. This ground-breaking series goes well beyond military history by exploring the transformation of battles into sites of memory and meaning. Cast into epic myths of the fight of Good against Evil, of punishment for decadence or reward for virtue, of the birth of a nation or the collective assertion against a tyrant, the defence of Civilisation against the Barbarians, Christendom against the Infidel, particular battles have acquired fame beyond their immediate contemporaneous relevance.

The epic battles of European history examined in this first volume range from the siege of Troy and the encounters of Marathon and Thermopylai, to the wars of the Israelites which inspired the way many later battles would be narrated; and from the triumphs and defeats of the Roman Empire, to Hastings, the massacre of Béziers and the battle of Courtrai. In each chapter, the historical events surrounding a battle form the backdrop for multi-layer interpretations, which, consciously or unconsciously, carry political agendas.

Multilayered analyses illuminate the effects of historical events. Sixteen pages of cartoons, photographs and other illustrations enhance the writers’ plunges into how victory or defeat influenced imagination, ideology, narratives and consciousness.

Toy Soldier & Model Figure magazine issue 242 - reviewed by Leo Winston

Battles so often appear as exceptional events quite divorced from the wars which produce them, and even those wars are sometimes studied without the context of their times. This is why the excellent two volumes of Famous Battles and how they shaped the modern world is as valuable as it is unusual... If these books do something to advance solidarity and reconciliation they will have done sterling work.

Read the full review here

Hussey, author of Waterloo: The Campaign of 1815

This ground-breaking series goes well beyond military history by exploring the transformation of battles into sites of memory and meaning... Beatrice and Athena’s superb book about classic epic battles is absolutely compelling and terrific in its scope and detail.

Read the full review here

Books Monthly

As featured 'ON THE SHELF'

Wargames Illustrated, August 2018

About Beatrice Heuser

Beatrice Heuser is known for her books on strategic studies including Reading Clausewitz (Pimlico, 2002), The Strategy Makers (ABC Clio 2010) containing translations of early texts, and Strategy Before Clausewitz (Routledge, 2017). She is keenly interested in myths invoked in foreign policy making, treated in (edited, with Cyril Buffet) Haunted by History (Berghahn, 1998).

About Athena S Leoussi

Athena Leoussi is known for her books on nationalism, including the Encyclopaedia of Nationalism (Transaction, 2001). She is a founder of The Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism, and the journal, Nations and Nationalism. She is also known for her publications on the classical body, and contribution to the British Museum’s exhibition, ‘Defining Beauty’ (2015).

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