This is Alistair Horne's 25th book and it is filled with the insights that can come only from a lifetime of studying war. Hubris is his title and his leitmotif - more precisely, the over-confidence that so often leads to military disaster. But there is no hubris in the author himself, who approaches the challenges of writing about Oriental conflicts with a due humility, as well as his customary literary skill
In this well written, deeply researched, and persuasively argued book, Horne, the venerable British military historian, looks at six critical battles of the 20th century, focusing on what he argues is a constant that links all of them: the hubristic arrogance exhibited by those on the losing end. In military history, the word hubris is most often used to explain one of the primary flaws of American Vietnam War policymakers, but Horne looks across the 50 years that preceded that engagement ... Horne convincingly argues that "infection by hubris" is alive and well today, and he rounds out the work by discussing ways that 21st-century leaders can work to avoid it
Alistair Horne's Hubris (Weidenfeld, £25) provides a penetrating study of six critically important battles of the second world war, each one illustrating how the sin of pride brings disaster on those who indulge in it. It is difficult to know whether to admire more the author's mastery of his subject or his literary skills.
The ancient Greeks used the word 'hubris' to describe.. the arrogant belief that man could challenge the gods and survive... Horne uses this sobering reflection to illuminate the history of war in the first half of the 20th century, which he does with the elegant readability and sharp insight familiar from his long career.
I can think of no one better to tackle the daunting subject of hubris and the punishments that so often follow than Alistair Horne. He brings the necessary wisdom, vast knowledge of the past and understanding of human nature to show the effects of hubris in modern warfare. In his masterly and confident hands, we are shown how victory whether that of the Japanese navy at Tsushima in 1905 or General MacArthur's in the first stages of the Korean War leads all too commonly to complacency and then disaster. A wonderful read.
The case against the awful consequences of military hubris is not hard to make. But Sir Alistair makes it with erudition and eloquence....his narrative is never dull; his judgements are informed by a weary understanding of human folly. This is a book that any political leader contemplating military action should read.
Horne is always readable and he has a keen eye for sometimes overlooked connections. One need not agree with Alistair Horne's choice of his analysis to welcome a thought-provoking contribution to an old historical theme.