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The End Of Everything

by Victor Davis Hanson

Kirkus Historical survey of civilizations brought to an end by war and conquest. Civilizations collapse for many reasons, and these days we worry not so much about war but about climate change and natural disasters. However, as classicist and military historian Hanson warns, it’s not out of the question that a modern enemy (Putin) might attempt to erase an opponent (Ukraine) as surely as Cortés brought down the Aztecs. “The gullibility, and indeed ignorance, of contemporary governments and leaders about the intent, hatred, ruthlessness, and capability of their enemies are not surprising,” writes the author, surveying a world in which genocide is no stranger. The first genocide, some historians hold, was that of Carthage, laid low by the Romans in the third of three fierce wars, the first two of which intended to secure Roman victory but not necessarily the erasure of the city. How Rome became bent on the enemy’s destruction engages Hanson as strategist and tactician, but it seems clear from his narrative that Carthage, complying with most of Rome’s demands, was by that point a mostly blameless victim—an analog, that is, to Ukraine. More intransigent was Thebes, perhaps an analog to Taiwan in the face of today’s China, exterminated at the hand of Alexander the Great, who saw in the annihilation a “signal [to] any would-be Macedonian rivals to the throne that Alexander was ruthless, and recklessly and unpredictably so.” Putin again, one might say. Hanson goes deep into military wonkery, but he writes vividly about relevant cases, including Constantinople and Tenochtitlán—cities, he points out, that remain occupied long after their erstwhile owners were dispatched. After all, seizing key real estate makes a strong motivator. A good choice for geopolitics and military history alike, ranging from specific battles to general principles of warfare. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.