Leaders and Battles

The Art of Military Leadership

Publisher: Presidio Press
No one man can win a battle by himself, but battles have been won and lost because of the strength or failings of one individual: the leader.
What went on in the minds and hearts of a select group of military leaders at critical moments in battle is the theme of this book. In Leaders and Battles, W. J. Wood re-creates ten battles from history, depicting the action in vivid detail—the brilliant formations, charging horses, clanking bayonets. The point of view is always that of the commanding officer. The particular quality of leadership that won—or lost—the encounter is very clear.
For Mad Anthony Wayne at Stony Point, it was courage that won the day. For Scipio Africanus at Ilipa, it was imagination. Custer’s judgment at the Little Big Horn was definitely in question. When the French stormed Ratisbon, it was the inspiration of Lannes that broke the impasse. At the battle of Bushy Run, Bouquet could never have outwitted Pontiac had he lacked flexibility.
The dynamics of battle as well as the strategy and tactics involved are equally well demonstrated. Though the means of fighting varied as much as the time and the civilizations involved, the lessons learned are just as applicable today. Men no longer fight with drawn swords, make barricades out of mealie bags, or use a swarm of bees as a weapon. But that is part of this book’s fascination.
Leaders and Battles is a remarkable retelling of fighting engagements for the armchair strategist, the leader in training, the history buff, and the general reader. It will take time before the major wars and low-intensity skirmishes of this century can be written about with the historical detachment and understanding that the author displays here. In the meantime, we can all profit from these lessons of history.