Masters of Command
Masters of Command

Masters of Command

It means “greatness of soul,” referring to a passionate drive to achieve great things and to be rewarded with supreme honor. (Location 333)

They could no more stop conquering than lions can stop hunting. (Location 340)

a quality known as strategic intuition. When faced with a new situation, each could draw from past experience and come up with the right answer. (Location 344)

Although super-competent as soldiers, each of the three commanders had his blind spot. Alexander ignored navies, Hannibal ignored sieges, and Caesar barely knew logistics. These were significant disabilities. (Location 352)

The great commanders were decisive, forceful, and assured. (Location 358)

they obeyed because their commander had earned their respect. The men had learned to trust their leader with their lives. (Location 359)

They appealed to their followers not just as conquerors or chiefs but also as men. They had those special personal qualities that inspired others on a deep, emotional level. (Location 363)

They were masters of reward and punishment. They used honors and cash prizes to foster bravery. (Location 370)

they kept relatively little loot for themselves but doled it out to their friends. (Location 371)

They stoked the fear factor by punishing anyone who crossed them, men and officers alike. Beatings, executions, and even crucifixions—these too were tools of leadership. (Location 374)

Honor was at the heart of their character. Courage was the red blood of their veins. But the warrior virtue that best embodies Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar alike is audacity. (Location 376)

But they dared to do what couldn’t be done. “Because he loved honor, he loved danger”—what Plutarch said of Caesar in battle applies to Alexander and Hannibal as well. (Location 380)

They were bold in the military campaigns they designed. Although most generals are risk-averse most of the time, these three were risk takers. (Location 384)

Each one gambled that he could destroy the enemy’s center of gravity before the enemy could destroy his. (Location 385)

but usually they calculated the odds. They raced out in front but rarely without first securing their base. (Location 387)

Few men bounced back as quickly from failure as they did. (Location 388)

change on the battlefield was their friend, but even their agility had its limits. And once off the battlefield and into politics, they faced more difficult challenges. (Location 390)

Only the need for sleep and sex, said Alexander, reminded him that he was human. (Location 401)

Nor do agile warriors necessarily make good politicians. War is clarity; politics is frustration. (Location 403)

To win a war takes certain material things: arms and armor, ships, food, money, money, and more money. With enough money, you can buy the rest. You can even acquire manpower—even disciplined and veteran manpower—that is, mercenaries. (Location 407)

And build it our three generals did. They each inherited a dazzling instrument and then honed it into something even sharper and more deadly. (Location 411)

strategy refers to generalship overall, from battle tactics to the art of operations (weaving battles together in pursuit of a larger goal) to war strategy (how to win a war). (Location 417)

Great commanders must master them all. (Location 419)

But when it came to war strategy, Alexander and Caesar turned the tables on Hannibal. (Location 426)

Alexander stooped to conquer Persia’s Mediterranean seaports—while putting off the big battle that he craved. (Location 427)

in effect, he bought their votes. Hannibal was less painstaking. (Location 429)

Hannibal failed at long-term thinking. (Location 430)

They were willing to kill innocents and everyone knew it. That too was a secret of their success. (Location 435)

He promised payback for Persia’s invasion of Greece 150 years earlier, proclaimed the liberation of the Greek cities that he conquered, and made them democracies, whether they liked it or not. (Location 450)

Napoleon asked for generals who were not only good but also lucky. (Location 463)

Success is not only a matter of the ten qualities just discussed, but of knowing when to deploy them. (Location 472)

every time you throw a punch, you create an opening for your opponent to attack, so you need to protect yourself. (Location 475)

I call them the five stages of warfare: (1) attack, (2) resistance, (3) clash, (4) closing the net, and (5) knowing when to stop. (Location 481)

We cannot understand war without allowing for its unpredictability and its fundamentally political nature. (Location 491)

They anticipated failure and they knew how to rebound from it. (Location 493)

They also understood that military victory does not equal political success. (Location 494)

Take Alexander. He was a conqueror but history records him as an icon. (Location 518)

Success requires a combination of military greatness and supreme political skill. Very few people excel at both. (Location 542)

They were great men but not benefactors of the human race; they came to destroy more than to fulfill. (Location 549)

Flush with victory and drunk with success, each man did the one thing that no successful general can ever dare do: he succumbed to his own vanity. (Location 559)

history often focuses on a frontier crossing as the start of a great war. (Location 578)

thereby forcing him either to fight or give up his political and military career (and possibly his life). (Location 582)

Alexander fought a war of conquest; in fact, the war was his legacy bequeathed to him by his father, King Philip II. (Location 592)

When it came to ambition, Alexander was his father’s equal. He, too, aimed at conquering the Persian empire. It was a tall order but Alexander was a man of destiny. (Location 599)

But even if he had been given to timidity or self-doubt, he would have had to squelch the emotions. The consequences of not going to war would have been dire. (Location 607)

He was a man of extremes. His mind was quick and astute but his body was indifferent to pain. (Location 628)

Rome destroyed Carthage in 146 B.C., in an act of utter annihilation that many scholars today consider to be genocide. (Location 641)

Rome had watched the rise of Carthaginian power in Spain with admiration and fear. (Location 662)

The third possibility, and the one that Hannibal chose, was audacity. He would attack and shock the enemy by invading Italy—an extension of his father Hamilcar’s raids. Hannibal reasoned that his victories in Italy would make Rome’s allies defect to him, and that would force Rome to sue for peace. (Location 676)

Nor had he risen to the top at an early age, like the other two generals. (Location 683)

At age sixteen, Caesar was a priest of Jupiter and, late in life, he allowed the Senate to grant him divine honors. (Location 684)

It was one of the most brutal, thorough, and profitable victories in Rome’s long history. (Location 688)

Caesar ran the greatest risks of all by not going to war. (Location 692)

He would have had to return to Italy as a private citizen, where prominent senators said they would immediately prosecute him for various illegalities in his prior career. (Location 694)

By going to war, Caesar had a better chance of achieving his long-term ambition of supreme power. (Location 697)

When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, Rome had been a republic again for thirty years, but generals like Pompey and Caesar cast a shadow on its freedom. (Location 705)

Pompey could not bear the thought of Caesar coming back from Gaul and dominating Roman politics, so he discovered the virtues of Rome’s good old republican system of government. (Location 717)

He told his soldiers, in a public meeting, that he was fighting to defend the power of Rome’s tribunes—the representatives of the people. (Location 725)

To the Romans, rank was a core value, the way freedom or security or community is a core value to modern electorates. (Location 730)

They shared a similarly bleak strategic situation at the outset. (Location 736)

Yet each man expected victory. Each one’s story was a classic case of something that has happened again and again in history. (Location 738)

In spite of relative deficiencies in money or manpower, they had a distinct advantage in infrastructure. (Location 742)

a master of mobility who pushed his army forward. (Location 744)

Each man combined a superior intellect with a decisive and resolute will. They lacked nothing in audacity. All were bold; none was risk-averse. (Location 746)

Each had a passionate conviction of his destiny and ability, not to say his divinity. (Location 748)

Each had a plan for victory: a blueprint for translating battlefield success into reality. (Location 753)

Their doctrine was cunning aggression: they scanned the enemy line for a gap and then shot through it with murderous intensity. In short, the new Macedonian cavalry excelled at shock attack. (Location 767)

Although the young king surely itched to replace them with his own men, he was too shrewd to do (Location 784)

Meanwhile, Alexander bonded with his soldiers by displaying strategic insight, courage in battle, and limitless self-confidence. (Location 787)

despite massive inferiority in money and manpower. (Location 789)

Even great armies can lose wars if the enemy is cunning, determined, and resourceful. (Location 791)

Persia’s navy was big and trustworthy. If it made a serious push across the Aegean Sea, Persia could raise a rebellion in Alexander’s rear, in the Greek city-states. The Persian navy might defeat Alexander while his invasion was just beginning. (Location 811)

Only some of the officers were Carthaginian; the troops represented other nationalities. (Location 819)

What gave Hannibal an edge was his horsemen and his ability to maneuver them. (Location 824)

A tactical giant, Hannibal reckoned that his superior generalship could defeat the Romans in battle and cause them enormous casualties. (Location 839)

A charismatic general like Hannibal, Pyrrhus too had a small but experienced army complete with cavalry and elephants. (Location 842)

but suffered such severe losses as to render them “Pyrrhic victories”—the term we still use today. (Location 843)

Ironically, it was Carthage that feared that Pyrrhus would invade its territory in Sicily. (Location 845)

The key to Rome’s strength was its confederacy. Between 350 and 270 B.C. Rome had conquered all of the communities of Italy south of the Po and Rubicon rivers. (Location 856)

from annexing territory, building roads, and planting colonies to intervening as needed in order to install friendly politicians in power. (Location 858)

First, Rome turned itself into a population giant by granting Roman citizenship to many of the conquered peoples. By 225 B.C. Rome’s population, in the city of Rome and Roman territory all over Italy, was close to one million free people, of whom 300,000 were adult males and so therefore, liable for military service. (Location 859)

So Rome had a total of 760,000 potential soldiers. (Location 862)

Hannibal’s forces, about 60,000 men when he first left Spain but a mere 26,000 men when he reached northern Italy after his devastating march. (Location 863)

Hannibal planned to shock Italy by handing Rome such big defeats in battle that the allies would start defecting to him, first in a trickle and then a flood. (Location 865)

For Hannibal, then, victory depended on two things: battle victories and allied defections. (Location 870)

Hannibal had a well-thought-out if highly risky plan. It began with a long and dangerous march followed by a rapid series of hammer blows to Rome’s homeland, so hard and fast that Rome’s Italian confederacy would crack. (Location 874)

He, in turn, played them like a lute. He overlooked their lapses and foibles but came down hard on deserters. (Location 881)

The men never lacked for material rewards: Caesar saw to that. Now, he promised them the first rank in the Roman state. (Location 885)

Domestic politics did not make his task easier. Hannibal was not a king or a dictator but a general of the Carthaginian state. (Location 914)

Having waged a propaganda campaign to demonstrate his devotion to the cause of Greece, Alexander now returned to the main purpose of his trip to Anatolia: he rejoined his army. (Location 944)

No one could rule an empire this big without becoming an absolute monarch; Alexander’s advisors knew this, and many of them eventually recoiled in horror from the prospect. (Location 951)

Last but not least, he had to raise money, because war is expensive, and the Macedonian treasury was empty. (Location 955)

in his first battle he executed most Greek mercenaries caught fighting for Persia, which was a brutal act, considering that captured mercenaries were usually easily encouraged to change sides. (Location 976)

the Carthaginian senate supported Hannibal but not in every particular. Many senators had their own agenda—winning back the lost colonies in Sicily and Sardinia. (Location 1008)

Caesar’s actions both before and after crossing the Rubicon demonstrate his mastery of the art of being a political general—of being, in short, Caesar. (Location 1015)

projects. He offered the Roman people a program of welfare benefits, which made him (Location 1027)

popular than the grandees in the Roman senate, who jealously guarded their own property. (Location 1028)

conservatives in the Senate and Pompey and his supporters. (Location 1029)

remember, as Pompey and Caesar both did, that in a civil war, less is more. (Location 1041)

Caesar had sole and supreme command of his forces, while Pompey had to share command with a committee of senators, each pulling in his own direction. (Location 1044)

Yet, while Caesar had stormed through Gaul, Pompey had gotten used to a life of civilian ease: (Location 1048)

Caesar probably guessed Pompey’s strategy: rather than risk fighting Caesar’s hardened veterans of Gaul, Pompey would raise new troops quickly in Italy and then evacuate them to Greece. (Location 1051)

Unlike Caesar, Pompey had a navy, which meant that, after fleeing Italy, he could return in force by way of the sea. (Location 1053)

Retreat repels most soldiers but sometimes it is necessary for future victory, despite the accompanying shame. (Location 1062)

A strategic bottleneck, the Hellespont attracted antiquity’s naval battles the way a canvas ring attracts boxers, but Persia’s mighty fleet was nowhere to be seen. (Location 1069)

Macedon had spent its last drachma in putting together the invasion force. (Location 1072)

In retrospect, Darius made a mistake by allowing a divided command when he should have enforced a single, united policy. Committees do not make good generals. (Location 1076)

Memnon leveraged his knowledge of Macedon into a series of victories against Alexander’s advance forces in Anatolia from 336 to 335. (Location 1089)

The Macedonians would have no easy time getting their men across and in good order. (Location 1108)

Usually a good psychologist, he knew that action would inspire his men and frighten the enemy. (Location 1112)

He sent in a squadron of about one thousand cavalrymen, to draw the enemy off the bank and into the river. It succeeded, at a cost of heavy Macedonian casualties. (Location 1120)

No novice, he had proven himself four years earlier by leading a cavalry charge against the Greeks at the Battle of Chaeronea. (Location 1123)

Alexander’s men had better equipment and technical expertise, and many of them, especially his bodyguard, were simply big and strong. (Location 1129)

While Macedonian horsemen pushed the Persians back, Thracian light troops, who intermingled with the cavalry, added to the Persians’ woes. (Location 1132)

although probably not as light as the pro-Macedonian sources claim: supposedly, just eighty-five cavalry and thirty infantry died. (Location 1142)

After the battle, Alexander made sure his wounded were treated well and went to the trouble of visiting them himself. (Location 1144)

Even by ancient standards, this was brutal, but the point was not military but political. (Location 1153)

To underline the message, Alexander sent three hundred captured Persian suits of armor to the Parthenon in Athens, with the inscription: (Location 1154)

They had just completed one of the great epic marches in the history of warfare. It was approximately a five-month, thousand-mile struggle against both natural and human enemies. (Location 1162)

But in the short run, Hannibal turned things around, which is a tribute to his leadership and to his men’s toughness. Not only that—he went on to win battlefield victory after victory, which seems almost miraculous. (Location 1188)

As a diplomat, he alternated between policies of terror and appeasement and won gains with both. (Location 1193)

The Roman infantry—the famed legions—could throw a powerful punch, and Hannibal now knew it from personal experience. (Location 1197)

and the information that Scipio probably received about the poor state of Hannibal’s army after it had straggled out of the Alps. Or maybe Scipio had a chip on his shoulder. When the Carthaginians had crossed the Rhône in southern France in October, Scipio had tried—and failed—to reach them in time to stop them. Humiliated, he then returned to Italy. (Location 1233)

By trying to woo Rome’s allies, Hannibal made war on the political as well as the military front. Meanwhile, a group of Rome’s Celtic allies left Scipio’s camp to join Hannibal and made a different kind of statement. (Location 1240)

Hannibal knew his enemy. As Polybius wrote, Hannibal understood that nothing is “more essential to a general than the knowledge of his opponent’s principles and character.” (Location 1254)

The Carthaginians had only a short distance to go to reach the battlefield. The Romans had to travel farther, and they had to cross the river. (Location 1260)

Hannibal planned to win by enveloping his enemy’s flanks. (Location 1263)

Hannibal delivered a dual message: slaughter and liberation. The question was whether it would drive a wedge between Rome and its allies. (Location 1276)

“He thought surprise, daring, and taking quick advantage of the moment could achieve more than preparing for a regular invasion; he wanted to panic his enemies.” (Location 1282)

They kept just one step ahead of Caesar’s advance. Things went rather smoothly until Corfinium. (Location 1291)

The city’s strategic position remained obvious. As he marched south, Caesar could not afford to bypass Corfinium and leave a strong enemy force in his rear. (Location 1300)

Caesar’s policy was generous but also political: he wanted to win the goodwill of all Italians. (Location 1341)

whom he immediately ordered to join him by taking a loyalty oath. (Location 1342)

In Roman eyes, clemency was a gift to a defeated, foreign opponent. (Location 1344)

If a commander has done his job properly, the enterprise will rest on a firm foundation, but it is a risk, even (Location 1349)

Yet the paradox is that our three generals each would have found peace too risky. Peace would have cost Caesar his career and possibly his life. (Location 1350)

Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar each played it safe by going to war. (Location 1353)

“Men are apt to think in great crises that when all has been done they still have something left to do and when all has been said that they have not yet said enough,” (Location 1360)

Within a month of stepping onto enemy soil, Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar had the right to feel that they had judged their enemy correctly. (Location 1362)

The best that Caesar could have hoped for was to chase Pompey out of Italy before he could raise many troops. (Location 1368)

Of the three generals, Alexander had the best war so far. (Location 1370)

Wars, in fact, have a way of getting more complicated (Location 1377)

the longer they go on. Once hostilities begin they take on a logic of their own. Having survived the initial shock, each side tends to increase its investment, which decreases its willingness to give in. The result: what might have seemed like a decisive move before the war turns out to be just an opening gambit once the fighting is under way. (Location 1378)

Knowing that their own men held the shore, the Carthaginians gave up practically as soon as the enemy drew blood. (Location 1398)

Most generals and kings, wrote Polybius, think only about success; they “do not envision the consequences of misfortune or consider at all how they should behave and what they should do in the event of disaster, although . . . [it] takes great foresight.” (Location 1417)

That in turn meant winning over the cities of western Anatolia, most of which were Greek. (Location 1423)

To popular acclaim, he replaced oligarchies with democracies. This was less idealism than pragmatism on Alexander’s part. (Location 1424)

Alexander claimed he had come to “liberate” these cities, but they knew better than to take him at face value. (Location 1428)

Alexander could solve the problem by beating the Persian fleet, but how could he polish off a much better navy? (Location 1437)

His strategic audacity and tactical toughness equaled Alexander’s, but unlike Alexander, Memnon was not king; (Location 1440)

In fact, Memnon was forced to send his wife and children to Darius as hostages in order to hold his command. But when Memnon fought, he made Alexander sweat. (Location 1442)

A pro-Persian party governed the city with the support of a garrison of Greek mercenaries. (Location 1446)

Parmenio now advised a naval battle but Alexander refused to risk it against an enemy that was superior both in numbers and experience. (Location 1452)

So Alexander made a bold decision: he sent most of the fleet home. (Location 1462)

Worse, no navy meant no defense against a Persian thrust across the Aegean. If the Persians chose to strike, Alexander had left them a wide-open target. (Location 1464)

that it was possible to defeat sea power on land. (Location 1467)

It was what Churchill would later call a “soft underbelly” strategy: attacking the enemy not where he was strong and protected, but where he was weak. (Location 1479)

Alexander was concerned. His gamble of dissolving his navy now seemed foolhardy. It was time to revise his plans. He sent a huge sum to Greece in order to raise a new fleet but it would not be ready for months. (Location 1482)

Alexander did another thing as well: he raised money from the rich cities in southern Anatolia. If they refused to be “liberated,” he marched on them. (Location 1486)

fact, Alexander was cautious enough to know when to call off an attack, even if it allowed his enemies to boast that they had beaten the mighty Alexander. (Location 1494)

it was, Darius decided to take resources from the war at sea, where the enemy was weak, and transfer them to a battle on land, where the enemy was strong. (Location 1508)

The Macedonians were a winning and experienced force but the Persians had strengths too and they outnumbered the Macedonians two to one. (Location 1517)

Alexander had a knack for public relations and he highlighted his valor. (Location 1519)

A lesser general would have been nonplussed by Darius’s unexpected arrival behind him, but Alexander stayed calm. He was a cavalryman, after all, and cavalrymen are used to operating far from their home base. (Location 1542)

He was able to assess the situation quickly and come up with the right solution. (Location 1547)

The game of moves and misdirection had ended, to Alexander’s distinct advantage. (Location 1552)

He was confident that his Greek mercenary phalanx could hold the Macedonian phalanx, but he wasn’t sure that his cavalry on the Persian right wing could break through the enemy cavalry opposite it. (Location 1570)

Meanwhile, the Macedonians unleashed their own strike from their right wing. (Location 1584)

He understood that he had lost a battle but could still win the war—as long as he survived. (Location 1588)

That turned the tide, and the Macedonians pushed the Greek mercenaries back. (Location 1591)

No fool, Alexander knew how much he relied on his generals. Without the heroic defense on the left wing by Parmenio, for example, the Persians might have taken Alexander in the rear and the result would have been a very different story. (Location 1597)

But he lacked Alexander’s self-confidence and single-mindedness, and Alexander’s gifts as a battlefield commander. (Location 1600)

He still controlled most of a vast empire, with huge military and financial resources at his disposal, including the Mediterranean’s preeminent fleet. (Location 1602)

He was smart enough to chip away at the enemy’s naval bases, but that wasn’t enough. (Location 1637)

Ultimately, Alexander’s response to Persia’s counterattack was to trust that the enemy would stumble. (Location 1639)

Hannibal had yet to find a base of supply. (Location 1677)

Without food and in a hostile country, how long would his men go on following him? (Location 1677)

The sources hint at a debate in the Carthaginian high command on this very question. (Location 1724)

Ringed by a massive wall, Rome might have required a long siege. Unless Rome fell quickly, there would be time enough for Servilius’s men and the legions in Sicily and Sardinia to come to Rome’s aid. (Location 1726)

Hannibal’s leadership style was to drive his men hard but then reward them generously. (Location 1733)

A dictator held supreme authority but only for six months at most. A dictator’s power wasn’t quite dictatorial: it could be challenged by his second-in-command, who was called the master of the horse. (Location 1739)

Unfortunately for Rome, Fabius resembled Memnon in another way too: he had limited authority, as events showed. (Location 1761)

we label a scorched-earth policy “Fabian strategy.” (Location 1762)

To the Romans, it was humiliating—and bloody; the Carthaginians killed about one thousand Roman soldiers as a parting shot. (Location 1769)

The Romans had sent an army there in spite of Hannibal’s threat to Italy. They defeated Hannibal’s brother Hasdrubal on both land and sea. (Location 1779)

The Senate was so encouraged that it sent twenty more warships and eight thousand soldiers to Spain under Gnaeus’s brother Publius Scipio—the consul of 218 who fought Hannibal at the Ticinus and Trebbia. (Location 1787)

He was able to brush off the rough crossing of the Apennines with a smashing victory at Trasimene. (Location 1795)

Hasdrubal personified another of Hannibal’s problems: he had no general good enough to entrust with control of another front. (Location 1798)

Neither man wanted the blame for war but neither intended to give an inch. (Location 1827)

He seized large merchant ships, outfitted them with three-story towers, armed them with catapults, slingers, and archers, and launched them against Caesar’s rafts. (Location 1834)

The conquest of Italy did not put Caesar in control. On the contrary, it made him a target. (Location 1850)

He had to go on the attack and he had to do so immediately—but not recklessly. (Location 1857)

In spite of his famous boldness in battle, Caesar’s strategy was methodical, even cautious. He would take out the enemy’s strengths piecemeal, one by one. (Location 1860)

Pompey was the opposite of Caesar, because Pompey joined a bold strategy with operational timidity. (Location 1873)

He learned a harsh lesson in the cost of letting the enemy decide when and where to fight. (Location 1876)

audacity, agility, good judgment, a strategy that mixed military force with political persuasion, and the leadership skill to hold his men together despite defeat. (Location 1882)

As usual, failure only made Caesar try harder. What he did was both resourceful and energetic. He had his men build small boats, carried them on wagons about twenty miles to a good crossing point, ferried a legion across, and had them build a new bridge. (Location 1887)

he had thousands of his soldiers wade through the freezing water of the Sicoris. (Location 1893)

It took Caesar only three months to conquer Spain and disarm Pompey’s best troops, and he did it with little or no bloodshed. (Location 1897)

The Romans lost virtually all ten thousand to fifteen thousand men in their three legions and Curio himself was killed. (Location 1901)

Instead of negotiating, he called an assembly of the entire army. When he rose to speak, Caesar defended the principles of discipline and patriotism. (Location 1909)

Decimation was an old-fashioned punishment in which every tenth man was executed. (Location 1911)

It was time enough to have himself elected consul and to impress the public with his moderation. (Location 1918)

Caesar continued his policy of clemency instead. Once again, Caesar distinguished his brand. (Location 1920)

It wasn’t quite enough to corral the senators and aristocrats who sat in his councils of war, each of them convinced that he knew more than the man who called himself “the Great,” but at least Pompey now had legal authority. (Location 1927)

It was about one year since he had crossed the Rubicon. Because he had no warships, Caesar used merchant ships. Because he lacked enough ships to transport all his men, he took only half of them. (Location 1935)

Alexander too had moved rapidly and decisively in his day, but Caesar took greater chances. (Location 1939)

Still, refusing the offer made him seem unreasonable. Even some of his men thought so: since the two armies were camped close to each other, Caesar sent a negotiator to Pompey’s troops, and they welcomed him. (Location 1953)

As so often, Pompey gave up the initiative to the enemy. (Location 1972)

Since Pompey held command of the sea, he could ferry supplies to Petra. (Location 1979)

He decided to have his men build a wall, punctuated by forts, to blockade Pompey’s army. The wall eventually stretched for seventeen miles over hilly terrain. (Location 1981)

the two sides were locked in a kind of armed wrestling match of raids and counter-raids. (Location 1984)

Caesar expected Pompey to close in for the kill but Pompey held back. He suspected an ambush and he thought it was an unnecessary risk to attack. (Location 2007)

“Today the enemy would have won, if they had a commander who was a winner.” (Location 2014)

Caesar considered the army to be like a child that would be lost without faith in its father—himself. Shake that trust and he would orphan them. (Location 2024)

“War is a harsh teacher.” After his experience in the first year and a half of war, each of our three generals would have nodded in agreement to this saying of Thucydides. They each faced surprises and reversals. (Location 2035)

Caesar hadn’t found an enemy willing to fight him in a pitched battle, but he had conquered Italy and Spain as well as Sicily and Sardinia even so, with seemingly little effort. (Location 2042)

conclusion that he didn’t, and sent most of his ships home. But he was hasty, as the fleet would have come in handy in later operations. (Location 2046)

Like Hannibal, Caesar suffered from a subordinate who was not up to his level of competence: (Location 2069)

Bringing their opponents to the battlefield, then, was a challenge for Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar alike. (Location 2100)

Asia. But Darius was eager to fight as well, and the question is why. Wouldn’t Darius have been better off by avoiding battle? (Location 2116)

deny food to Alexander’s army as it marched eastward. (Location 2118)

But this strategy too was risky. Many towns might prefer opening their storehouses to Alexander rather than go hungry for Darius. (Location 2121)

Darius gave his cavalry the tools to carry out a double envelopment of the enemy. They would surround Alexander’s army on both sides and overwhelm (Location 2150)

Masterful tactician that he was, Alexander figured out Darius’s plans and came up with a way to counter them. (Location 2172)

Darius’s superiority in numbers allowed him to outflank Alexander on either side. (Location 2184)

Alexander had to come up with a plan that would parry the Persians’ cavalry strike and allow him to counterattack in turn. (Location 2186)

out his line to the point where it left his center weak. (Location 2188)

The sides of the rectangle were made up of a flank guard on each wing. (Location 2193)

He wanted to draw the Persian cavalry into a fight with the flank guards on his army’s two wings. (Location 2197)

Alexander knew that he might find himself in a race against time, hurrying to win on his right and then turning to help (Location 2203)

He took his superb, combined-arms force and—on the spot—made it better. (Location 2205)

Then, ever the good leader, he attended to morale by giving the men a meal and a good night’s sleep. (Location 2209)

Some Greeks had already hailed previous conquerors as demigods, and Alexander had outdone them. (Location 2214)

The flat and featureless landscape offered no landmarks to aid memory. (Location 2219)

But the fight was developing exactly where Alexander wanted it, on his right flank guard. (Location 2226)

the Persian and Indian horsemen plundered Alexander’s camp far behind the lines. They wasted their opportunity to aid Mazaeus, only to be driven back by Macedonian infantry in the rear. (Location 2247)

Sixty of Alexander’s Companions fell, and three senior officers were wounded, including Hephaestion, Alexander’s closest friend. (Location 2252)

He then headed into the mountains of western Iran, with the remnants of his royal guard and his mercenaries, as well as Bessus’s cavalry, which had survived in good order. Mazaeus and his surviving men fled to Babylon. (Location 2267)

Alexander entered Babylon, where he was again acclaimed as king, this time officially. (Location 2271)

Otherwise, Alexander would have to conquer another million square miles of territory the hard way, hill and valley by bloody hill and valley. (Location 2274)

They wanted only as much of Persia’s former empire as they could govern from Macedon. (Location 2278)

The Romans outnumbered Hannibal at Cannae by nearly two to one and they got to fight the battle when and where they wanted. (Location 2288)

killed about 48,000 Romans and took about 20,000 prisoners; only about 15,000 Romans escaped. (Location 2290)

There is some truth in this. Without Roman errors, Cannae would have been a Roman defeat but not a disaster. Yet without Hannibal’s brilliance, Cannae might have been a Roman victory. (Location 2294)

In 217 B.C. Hannibal teased like a wily matador, and his tricks drove an angry Roman bull to the point where it could no longer resist battle. (Location 2297)

the largest army the Romans had ever raised, and the first one to be commanded by both consuls; usually, they led separate armies. (Location 2301)

One possible explanation is the Roman system of command, by which the two consuls alternated the supreme command daily. (Location 2322)

More likely, the Romans wanted to fight on the right bank, where the terrain was slightly less favorable to cavalry. (Location 2324)

Each side had been at Cannae long enough to reconnoiter the ground and make its plans for battle. (Location 2337)

Hannibal’s army moved with the cunning of a wrestler who, with a feigned glance or a misleading hand movement, tricks his opponent into mistaking the true direction of his attack. (Location 2338)

Perhaps the only way to keep order on the battlefield was to bunch them close together. (Location 2345)

The Roman generals were still thinking about the previous battle instead of focusing on new conditions, as they should have. (Location 2350)

Unlike the Romans, he had learned something from history. (Location 2354)

Unlike the Romans, Hannibal worked almost entirely with veterans. No new Africans or Spaniards had joined his army since the start of the war; only the Celts could have provided new recruits, as they probably did. (Location 2357)

The Celts and Spaniards had to maintain an orderly, fighting retreat while observing fellow-soldiers dying all around them. (Location 2387)

It was a complete envelopment, which makes Cannae a classic of the military art. (Location 2414)

It included eighty senators or men eligible for membership in the Senate; twenty-nine colonels (to give the equivalent rank of the military tribunes); numerous ex-consuls, (Location 2418)

Cannae was Hannibal’s greatest victory. It was also the bloodiest defeat in Roman history. (Location 2426)

he forgot that they were merely an inexperienced and hastily collected assortment of men. But Cicero wrote in hindsight, two years later. (Location 2483)

north. For several days, Caesar tried to tempt Pompey down (Location 2509)

Pompey’s cavalry included a large contingent of Roman aristocrats, the sons of senators and knights. (Location 2536)

A regular advance might cause Pompey’s inexperienced lines to fall into disorder. (Location 2548)

It would have been a good plan if carried out by Alexander’s or Hannibal’s seasoned horsemen. Or, rather, it would have been a good plan but it lacked the element of deception. (Location 2553)

This weakened the third line but, as usual, Caesar was willing to take a risk. (Location 2556)

The matchless professionalism of his troops allowed Caesar to take chances, but this was a move of supreme audacity, something that only an exceptional commander would have dared. (Location 2558)

aim for the enemy’s face, on the principle that vanity would make an elite horseman turn and flee. (Location 2575)

More likely, the real cause of Pompey’s defeat was panic. (Location 2576)

Brilliant strategist, masterful tactician, tireless organizer, cunning diplomat, Pompey lacked only one thing: he wasn’t Caesar. Pompey understood neither Caesar’s audacity nor his agility. (Location 2587)

Caesar, however, drove them forward in pursuit—another sign of their discipline. (Location 2598)

Alexander’s and Hannibal’s army each blended cavalry and infantry as smoothly as liquid oxygen and hydrogen in rocket fuel— (Location 2618)

The genius of the winning generals is equally impressive. Each man correctly analyzed his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and responded with ingenuity and pluck. (Location 2620)

We must also salute the winners’ ability to hold their armies together. Although Alexander’s army had a relatively easy time of things on the road to Gaugamela, they still faced fear, as shown by their responses first to an eclipse and then the sight of Darius’s huge force. Alexander had to reassure them. (Location 2632)

Each of the three winning armies was part band of brothers, part gangland family. (Location 2640)

he wanted to conquer an empire. (Location 2642)

Each battle saw such a one-sided outcome that it begs the question of what the loser was thinking by ever agreeing to a pitched battle in the first place. (Location 2647)

For one thing, hindsight isn’t history, and there is no guarantee that a Fabian strategy would have worked. (Location 2668)

Battle was risky but making a decision was easy and quick. (Location 2670)

Still, he recognized the weakness of his infantry and rested his plans on his cavalry. In short, the losing generals tried to exercise due diligence, but they failed. (Location 2675)

They owed some of their success to a general’s willingness to engage in terror or to brand himself as a god’s son. (Location 2677)

The ability to feed their men in hostile country was also a matter of infrastructure. (Location 2679)

Finally, there was the good judgment of the commander, the combination of intuition and expertise that had him do just the right thing at just the right time. Nothing played a greater role in making Gaugamela, Cannae, (Location 2681)

Winning takes the ability to reap strategic advantage afterward. (Location 2713)

The clarity that victory in pitched battle offered was gone. (Location 2716)

He was the proud owner of 180,000 talents of gold and silver—312 tons of gold and 2,000 tons of silver. (Location 2741)

This was harsher treatment than elsewhere, but Alexander recognized Persepolis’s status as the center of Persian religion. He wanted to deny the enemy any sacred ground to strike back at him. (Location 2743)

If Alexander had captured Darius alive, he might have reaped a political and military bonanza. (Location 2763)

That, after all, would have spared Persia further bloodshed and—a Persian patriot might have said—given it time to recover and to plot Alexander’s eventual overthrow. (Location 2765)

Alexander would face tough fighting, far from his home base. If he stayed in the west and consolidated the rule of his new empire, Alexander would have to prepare for raids if not a major invasion from Bessus’s territory. (Location 2771)

didn’t want Darius’s corpse; he wanted his kingdom. But that was the truth. (Location 2774)

Besides, Alexander was first, last, and always a warrior king. He excelled at war and he loved it more than any other activity. (Location 2781)

If the rebel Greeks had won, they might have forced Alexander to turn back. Memnon’s ghost was surely smiling, but not for long. (Location 2787)

He gave a speech that touched on three themes: security, honor, and royal favor. (Location 2795)

As for Alexander’s own men, Macedonians and Greeks in his entourage responded to the compromise with rage, grumbling, and conspiracy. Alexander responded too—with murder. (Location 2825)

Alexander went further than most in the sheer number of alleged plotters, conspirators, and grumblers that he had executed. (Location 2828)

Success would have required every ounce of a master statesman’s skill, but Alexander rarely focused his attention on domestic politics. (Location 2844)

ruthlessly in the officer corps and replaced them with his friends and comrades. (Location 2847)

Meanwhile, Alexander reorganized units to weaken private and regional ties. He wanted only one focus of loyalty—himself. (Location 2849)

the biggest losers were civilians. The Macedonians massacred and enslaved them by the thousands. It was part revenge, part deterrent, and part recreation—a gruesome but effective way for the tired and frustrated troops to blow off steam. (Location 2893)

Since he had executed most of his officers (Location 2898)

Alexander spared his life and his kingdom. He made Porus swear allegiance and even increased the territory under Porus’s control. (Location 2933)

It demonstrates the strategic wisdom of Rome’s leaders, but it also shows the deep well of popular support they drew from. (Location 3031)

If the Senate had agreed, in the future, Roman soldiers might have preferred surrender to fighting to the death, secure in the knowledge that eventually they would be ransomed. The Senate refused. (Location 3086)

open—so the Romans surprised Hannibal after Cannae. According to the unwritten rules of the day, if its armies lost battle after battle, a state was supposed to surrender. Instead, Rome fought on. (Location 3089)

But the main obstacle to attacking Rome was, it seems, Hannibal’s inflexibility. (Location 3127)

Great men like Hannibal should not be reduced to petty motives, but heroes too have egos. (Location 3144)

Because of its sea power, Rome could attack Spain at will. Not that the war was easy: it took ten years for Rome to put Carthage on the run in Spain. (Location 3164)

Hannibal seems to have understood it at first, but then something happened. Either he lost sight of it, or he failed to receive the necessary support from his home government to carry out a winning strategy, or both. (Location 3170)

Another fundamental rule of war is, if you invade another country, don’t let it invade you in return. (Location 3173)

Carthage should have accepted its inability to drive Rome from Spain and have settled for neutralizing it. (Location 3176)

To win, Caesar needed mobility, but he lacked a fleet. He needed manpower, but he lacked money. He needed to divide his enemies, but they remained firm. He needed more battlefield victories, but his troops were tired and his enemy was cautious. (Location 3195)

so Caesar could have won big politically by capturing Pompey after Pharsalus. Alive and in Caesar’s control, Pompey would be a game changer—and maybe even a willing one. Pompey was a soldier, he was no longer young, and he had no principles. (Location 3219)

Veni vidi vici, a phrase that shines in the English translation or “I came, I saw, I conquered.” (Location 3272)

“My imperator” is a full-blooded term. Like “my country,” it is a phrase that men fought and died for. (Location 3330)

The centurion’s language was worthy of a personality cult. The Latin word imperator meant “commander-in-chief” but, within a generation, it would come to mean “emperor” as well. When the word imperator packed more rhetorical punch than the words res publica—“republic”—then the Republic itself was in doubt. (Location 3335)

The centurions tried to hold the men back but it was too late. Ever the pragmatist, Caesar called out the watchword of the day—“Felicitas!” or “Good luck!”—and the battle began. Caesar’s archers and slingers (Location 3354)

Success at closing the net requires four things: strategy, agility, new infrastructure, and morale management. (Location 3436)

On the contrary, since necessity is the mother of invention, the vanquished are likely to be more ingenious than ever, and perhaps even more dangerous. (Location 3437)

He correctly concluded that his first target after winning at Pharsalus was the escaped enemy commander Pompey. (Location 3459)

He had wanted a strategic lever but instead he got a chain. (Location 3464)

Caesar had to work harder to fund himself, but he succeeded. (Location 3485)

Alexander had the ringleaders of the mutiny executed and offered top military commands to Iranian officers. (Location 3507)

He gave the leading Macedonians the best seats at the banquet, where they surrounded him in a circle. The senior Persians sat in a ring around them, surrounded in turn by a circle of high-ranking representatives of the other peoples of the empire. (Location 3509)

Neither Alexander nor Caesar bequeathed a legacy of peace. Caesar left Rome one generation of war, Alexander left his empire two generations of war. (Location 3554)

Conquerors keep on going until they and their men drop from exhaustion or die. Statesmen know when to stop. (Location 3559)

Philip of Macedon had done an excellent job of integrating local elites into the ruling class by bringing their sons to his court. (Location 3572)

The Persians ruled through a system of provincial governors, royal officials, military colonies, and constant deals and negotiations with local elites. (Location 3577)

Successful empires need large numbers of immigrants from the home country—soldiers, administrators, businessmen, propagandists, and settlers. (Location 3584)

Instead, he again turned his attention to the military, where he radically reformed recruitment and began yet another campaign of conquest. (Location 3598)

At the same time, he was not willing to pin himself down to a specific constitution—and maybe that showed wisdom. When men propose big change, details become targets. (Location 3988)