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Ed Driscoll

Interview: Victor Davis Hanson on The Savior Generals

June 25th, 2013 - 12:04 am


In his latest book, fellow PJM columnist Victor Davis Hanson explores that unique, and exceedingly rare, military man, the savior general. Or as the subtitle of the new book puts it, How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost — From Ancient Greece to Iraq. 

These men range from Themistocles and Belisarius to the Civil War’s General Sherman, Matthew Ridgway, in Korea and David Petraeus in Iraq. They became “savior generals” in VDH’s estimation, because each salvaged a war that appeared to have been hopelessly lost by a previous general whose name and ego caused him to make a hash of the fight. In some cases, their battlefield predecessors, such as MacArthur in Korea, were fighting the last war all over again, instead of responding to the conditions of the current battle. How did the savior generals VDH chose for his book manage to rise to the top ranks of their respective armies, and yet keep their ego in check? How did they learn to stay flexible and respond to the battles they were tasked to fight? And how does a savior general learn how to balance the warfare of politics, versus the actual warfare on the battlefield?

During our 28-minute long interview, Victor will discuss:

● What can we learn from the generals of antiquity?

● How did VDH narrow his list of “savior generals” down to five, and which men didn’t make the cut?

● What are the current states of Iraq and Afghanistan in the Obama era?

● Why “savior generals” often have unfortunate post-military careers.

● Is America’s culture still capable of producing further savior generals?

● The complex relationship between America’s hard left and the military.

● How VDH’s home state of California is surprisingly resilient, despite the best efforts of its politicians to destroy it.

And much more. Click here to listen:

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(28 minutes long; 25.6 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 4.79 MB lo-fi edition.)

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Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.

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All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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First search was for Patton. He was demoted by FDR for slapping two hospitalized soldiers for PTSD. He was demoted from three star to two star general, And he was assigned to the fake First Army Group that deceptively occupied Hitler with a northern attack. When he was subsequently allowed to command a real Army, he would have probably liberated much of Eastern Europe from Communism. But FDR deliberately prevented him from doing it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nice interview, I think I'll get the book for my my high schooler. I read him the list of names and he knew the stories of 4 of the 5.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"All Petraeus did in Iraq"

Was drop casualties amongst our troops from 130/month to 0. Zero. Because his COIN strategy was successful.

And in Afghanistan, he was never told to go win it with the resources he requested, he was it turns out told go there sit around while Obama won the by force of his personal emanations.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well,frankly I'm astounded and appalled that Arthur Wellsley isn't on this list
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, I think he was concentrating on perhaps longer campaigns.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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