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Why the West Has Won

One of the important lessons of Victor Davis Hanson’s riveting new book, Carnage and Culture, is that the only civilization or culture that can defeat the West is the West.  “In the long history of European military practice,” Hanson writes, “it is almost a truism that the chief military worry of a Western army for the past 2,500 years was another Western army.”  In battles against non-Western powers, European armies have not only been victorious on most occasions but have inflicted horrendous casualties on their enemies while suffering relatively few of their own.  By contrast, battles and wars fought among Westerners (the Peloponnesian War, the Thirty Years’ War, the American War Between the States, World Wars I and II) have been bloodbaths, often with harmful demographic, political, and cultural consequences.  Hanson’s book is an exploration of why, for 2,500 years, Western armies and navies have achieved and maintained military and naval superiority over those of the East.  He argues that European invincibility has resulted not from favorable geography, climate, resources, luck, or even genes, but from the unique Western military tradition—which is itself a natural product of the uniqueness and superiority of Western culture.

Hanson, a classical historian and author of The Western Way of War (1989) and The Other Greeks...

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