Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes that Changed the World

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Bantam Books, 2013 - History - 478 pages
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Two modern masters of military history make their case for the twenty most pivotal battles of all time, in a riveting trip through the ages to those moments when the fate of the world hung in the balance.

In the grand tradition of Edward Creasy's classic Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, James Lacey and Williamson Murray spotlight only those engagements that changed the course of civilization. In gripping narrative accounts they bring these conflicts and eras to vivid life, detailing the cultural imperatives that led inexorably to the battlefield, the experiences of the common soldiers who fought and died, and the legendary commanders and statesmen who matched wits, will, and nerve for the highest possible stakes.

From the great clashes of antiquity to the high-tech wars of the twenty-first century, here are the stories of the twenty most consequential battles ever fought, including

• Marathon, where Greece's “greatest generation” repelled Persian forces three times their numbers—and saved Western civilization in its infancy
• Adrianople, the death blow to a disintegrating Roman Empire
• Trafalgar, the epic naval victory that cemented a century of British supremacy over the globe
• Saratoga, the first truly American victory, won by united colonial militias, which ensured the ultimate triumph of the Revolution
• Midway, the ferocious World War II sea battle that broke the back of the Japanese navy
• Dien Bien Phu, the climactic confrontation between French imperial troops and Viet Minh rebels that led to American intervention in Vietnam and marked the rise of a new era of insurgent warfare
• Operation Peach, the perilous 2003 mission to secure a vital bridge over the Euphrates River that would open the way to Baghdad

Historians and armchair generals will argue forever about which battles have had the most direct impact on history. But there can be no doubt that these twenty are among those that set mankind on new trajectories. Each of these epochal campaigns is examined in its full historical, strategic, and tactical context—complete with edge-of-your-seat you-are-there battle re-creations. With an eye for the small detail as well as the bigger picture, Lacey and Murray identify the elements that bind these battles together: the key decisions, critical mistakes, and moments of crisis on which the fates of entire civilizations depended.

Some battles merely leave a field littered with the bodies of the fallen. Others transform the map of the entire world. Moment of Battle is history written with the immediacy of today's news, a magisterial tour d'horizon that refreshes our understanding of those essential turning points where the future was decided.


“Two world-class historians present, eloquently and persuasively, twenty battles that fundamentally changed the course of history. Moment of Battle is a must acquisition for anyone seeking to understand the nature of human development—and its turning points.”—Dennis E. Showalter, professor of history, Colorado College, author of Armor and Blood

“In a single volume, James Lacey and Williamson Murray have distilled a lifetime of learning and insight into the most influential battles in world history. This is a readable and compelling primer and a feast for the student of military history.”—James D. Hornfischer, author of Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - RonStarcher - LibraryThing

Moment of Battle is an epic work that aptly describes what its subtitle offers: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World. Lacey and Murray have chosen these twenty battles because, “of their long ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - atiara - LibraryThing

This book was really interesting. Some of the battles were ones I was already familiar with, but some were new to me. I had an Early Reviewer copy and it obviously wasn't well edited yet so I can't ... Read full review


MARATHON Athens Saves Westem Civilization 490 15 6
GAUGAMELA Alexander Creates a New World 311 n c
ADRIANOPLE The End of Roman Supremacy AD 378
HASTINGS The Remaking of Europe 1066
BREITENFELD The Creation of Modern War 1631
TRAFALGAR Napoleons Plans Thwarted 1805
THE MARNE The End qfOld Europe 1914
MIDWAY Imperial Japan Stopped 1942
KURSK The End of the Drang Nach Osten 1943
OBJECTIVE PEACH The Drivefor Baghdad 2003

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About the author (2013)

James Lacey is the author most recently of The First Clash, about the battle of Marathon, and is a widely published defense analyst who has written for Time, National Review, Foreign Affairs, and other publications. He currently teaches at the Marine Corps War College and Georgetown University.
Williamson Murray is the author of a wide selection of articles and books, including, with Allan R. Millett, the acclaimed A War to Be Won, an operational history of World War II, and has held numerous distinguished academic chairs. He is presently a defense analyst at the Potomac Institute and teaches at the Naval War College.

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