The Shape of Battle


Six Campaigns from Hastings to Helmand

THIS whip-smart exploration of military behaviour reveals how the power of human passion that drives opposing sides to take up arms against each other hasn’t changed in more than 1,200 years! As the author suggests in this compelling volume, soldiers with swords, spears, shields and bows were just as intelligent when it came to warfighting during the Battle of Hastings in 1066 as they are in a 21st-century war reliant on technology and drone-gathered intelligence.

Battle is, writes this eminent historian and former soldier, the most intense of all interaction, and from this ancient psychological DNA has evolved a style of modern military history made up of three fundamental levels – strategic, operational and tactical.

The comments of various notable war leaders encourages more thought about this three-layered definition. The ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu who famously wrote The Art of War, is quoted at the top of Chapter 1: “All battles are won before they are fought.” Centuries later, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who witnessed his share of conflict both in defeat and victory, bluntly remarked: “Only one thing is certain in battle, and that is everything will be uncertain.”

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