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Old March 12th, 2008, 06:48 PM   #1

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Victor Davis Hanson


Anyone here read any of his stuff? I'm curious to hear other's opinions of his writing; I've read and enjoyed several of his books, yet some of his conclusions bother me. Thoughts?
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Old March 13th, 2008, 01:27 AM   #2

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Re: Victor Davis Hanson


I just can't bring myself to buy any of his books.

I know I should keep an open mind, but having read some reviews of his work and surfed his website, some of the conclusions he comes to are so "neoCon" or "right wing", I just don't want to contribute my hard earned money towards his lifestyle.

I'll have to see if I can get friends or relatives to buy me a copy of his Peloponessian War, apparently his most contentious book, so I can see for myself, or try to find a library that stocks his work.
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Old March 13th, 2008, 02:13 AM   #3

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Re: Victor Davis Hanson


I understand how you feel Belisarius; he is certainly what I would term a "Western Supremacist" if you get my meaning. I heard him say in an interview once that war is man's natural state, and this is a good thing. That idiotic point-of-view is enough to get just about anyone angry.

However, I have enjoyed some of his work, even though I disagree with his politics. He has a good book about ancient Greek warfare called The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece that leaves out most of his political views. The others I have read mix a heavy dose of politics in with the history; Carnage and Culture in particular would probably drive you crazy
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Old May 19th, 2009, 02:17 AM   #4

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Re: Victor Davis Hanson


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantagruel View Post
Anyone here read any of his stuff? I'm curious to hear other's opinions of his writing; I've read and enjoyed several of his books, yet some of his conclusions bother me. Thoughts?
I'm greatly enjoying Carnage and Culture. Not least of all because it's written as a kind of answer to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs & Steel which answers the question "Why does the white man have so much cargo?" posed by a New Guinean [sic?]. Diamond's angle in a nutshell is geographic determinism. He answers the question "Well, we're really just lucky is all".
Hanson's much less apologetic, his answer is "No, it's not that we're lucky, it's about millenia-spanning Western values and attitudes toward society (and the subsequent effect militarily) that put us ahead, it's the systems we've developed."

If I were still in the still-politically-correct-oppressed U.S., I would feel the apologist's sentiments, I could empathize with the feeling that his conclusions are unsettling; too proud. But after 5 years in Southeast Asia and much travel, I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that palatial societies, ie those east of the Hellespont, JUST DON"T GET IT.

I love your term 'Western Supremacist' - it's perfect! But that doesn't mean he's wrong...
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Old May 19th, 2009, 02:28 AM   #5

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Re: Victor Davis Hanson


Still not got any of his books and non of my friends and relatives will buy me one despite heavy hint dropping!

I've never suggested he was 'wrong' just that his view lacked a certain objectivity.
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Old May 19th, 2009, 03:15 AM   #6

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Re: Victor Davis Hanson


Quote:
Originally Posted by Belisarius View Post
Still not got any of his books and non of my friends and relatives will buy me one despite heavy hint dropping!
Ok, Belisarius, I have a workaround for you...

Look on the right side of..

[ame="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Carnage-Culture-Landmark-Battles-Western/dp/0385720386/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242727749&sr=8-1"]Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power: Amazon.co.uk: Victor Davis Hanson: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/515SS41XJVL.@@AMEPARAM@@515SS41XJVL[/ame]

you'll see the "Add to Shopping Basket" button, and beneath that, a link to (what was at press time) "27 used & new from 4.99GBP"

This way, if you buy it used, you're abstaining from contributing to his lifestyle and saving yourself a few quid in the process.

You shouldn't deny yourself this if you're at all curious.
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Old May 19th, 2009, 05:39 AM   #7

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Re: Victor Davis Hanson


If you've read one of his books, you've read them all (they are quite repetitive)

The Western Way of War though is the best. Good overview of warfare, and a good first read for someone who might not have studied it that much.

A War like no Other was also a decent look at the warfare of the Peloponnesian War.
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Old June 20th, 2009, 10:50 PM   #8

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Re: Victor Davis Hanson


V D Hanson definitely makes some contentious arguments in his books, but I would still say that his ideas shouldn't be discounted. Just because some of his ideas are politically incorrect doesn't mean he deserves to be ignored. Whether or not you disagree with his ideas, I think we can agree that he's an intelligent person and therefore deserving of some attention.
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Old July 19th, 2009, 08:16 PM   #9

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Re: Victor Davis Hanson


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantagruel View Post
Anyone here read any of his stuff? I'm curious to hear other's opinions of his writing; I've read and enjoyed several of his books, yet some of his conclusions bother me. Thoughts?
Check out Donald Kagan. He writes about many of the same subjects, but he's a much better writer, a much more knowledgeable historian, and he's free from the disturbing ideological taint that has afflicted Mister Hanson ever since he started fancying himself the heir to William Buckley.

Kagan's books about the Peloponesian War are superb -- much better than Hanson's, which seems like something of a knock-off. And his On the Origins of War is food for thought.
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Old July 20th, 2009, 11:33 PM   #10
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Re: Victor Davis Hanson


While I don't really take issue with Hanson politically (although i'm not a neo-con) his historical interpretations are poluted with his ideologies. But the same could be said about other historians as well. It doesn't make him less relevant because of it.
The reality is nowadays everyone's got an angle. Hanson's is conservative. It's only natural that some people are not going to agree, and some of us may even hold it against him. Howard Zinn would get the same criticisms from conservatives.
Personally I am comfortable enough with my world views that I could pick up either author and enjoy there perspectives. I am opened minded enough to listen to other interpretations in history, but also smart enough to know when the author is using a historical event to further an agenda.

*I would also like to apologize for any spelling or grammer errors. This was posted from my phone.

Last edited by Redbaron29; July 21st, 2009 at 12:50 AM.
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