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I always get jealous of the amazingly glorious beards the Akkadian/Assyrian/Sumerian/Babylonian types had.  I mean, I'm sure they didn't actually look THAT glorious in real life, but in the carvings they look simply magnificent.  

 

As with any historical records from that far back, it's very hard to separate fact from propaganda (like Roman historical texts making Hannibal out to be larger than life so that Scipio Africanus would look that much better for defeating him) from just plain fiction.  Still, as Raithe pointed out, it was written by people he beat the crap out of, so I'm sure they weren't going out of their way to do him any favors. 

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I always get jealous of the amazingly glorious beards the Akkadian/Assyrian/Sumerian/Babylonian types had.  I mean, I'm sure they didn't actually look THAT glorious in real life, but in the carvings they look simply magnificent.  

 

As with any historical records from that far back, it's very hard to separate fact from propaganda (like Roman historical texts making Hannibal out to be larger than life so that Scipio Africanus would look that much better for defeating him) from just plain fiction.  Still, as Raithe pointed out, it was written by people he beat the crap out of, so I'm sure they weren't going out of their way to do him any favors. 

 

I believe the Persians wore false beards, recorded as such on tax records from the era.

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"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

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I always get jealous of the amazingly glorious beards the Akkadian/Assyrian/Sumerian/Babylonian types had.  I mean, I'm sure they didn't actually look THAT glorious in real life, but in the carvings they look simply magnificent.  

 

As with any historical records from that far back, it's very hard to separate fact from propaganda (like Roman historical texts making Hannibal out to be larger than life so that Scipio Africanus would look that much better for defeating him) from just plain fiction.  Still, as Raithe pointed out, it was written by people he beat the crap out of, so I'm sure they weren't going out of their way to do him any favors. 

 

I believe the Persians wore false beards, recorded as such on tax records from the era.

 

So they were strap-on beards, like what the Egyptians used, just far more glorious?

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Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart (While definitely not a general, a military chronicler and theorist who probably has influenced warfare more than many generals)

 

liddellhart.jpg

 

He is my favourite historian in the areas of WW1 and WW2, and an early proponent of the mobile and armoured warfare which would dominate WW2 (somewhat of a British counterpart to Heinz Guderian and Mikhail Tukhachevsky). I've read several of his books and if any of you are interested in the history of warfare in the 20th and 19th century (especially WW1 and WW2), I'd recommend you do so as well. Very closely after WW1, he "sacrificed" his future military career in favour of being a freelance writer, in his own opinion allowing him to state controversial opinions which were contrary to the current views in the British military establishment, and often very damning to his former superiors in the army. Nonetheless his writings were widely read by the outbreak of the WW2, and also known among (and translated by) German military staff.

 

One of his books (of a slightly more philosophical nature, but still from the perspective of a military theorist) is available for free on the Internet here.

 

 

"Wellington's best contribution to the future of Europe, after victory was gained, was in the making of the peace settlement with France. In the occupation of the conquered country he was as intent to protect the people from ill-usage as he had been when that policy had been a means to smooth the path of his invasion. He did all he could to curb the revengeful excesses of his allies—even to the point of posting a British sentry on the Pont de Jena in Paris to hinder Blücher from blowing it up—while insisting that his own army must set an example of gentleness, courtesy, and restraint.

 

When it came to drawing up the peace terms, he threw all his influence against the demand of Prussia and the other German states that France should be dismembered and compelled to pay a huge indemnity, to compensate their sufferings and safeguard their security. He realized with uncommon clarity the unwisdom of immoderation and the fundamental insecurity of a peace based upon oppression. The outcome justified his policy of moderation.

 

It was because he really understood war that he became so good at securing peace. He was the least militaristic of soldiers and free from the lust of glory. It was because he saw the value of peace that he became so unbeatable in war. For he kept the end in view, instead of falling in love with the means. Unlike Napoleon, he was not infected by the romance of war, which generates illusions and self-deceptions. That was how Napoleon had failed and Wellington prevailed."

 

I think it's worthwhile to compare the above quote with the peace processes which occurred after WW1 and WW2. It can never be made clear enough that the purpose of any war is to achieve a good, stable peace. If the peace agreement is only a source for new oppression, then you are also guaranteed to get more war.

 

WW1 gave us the peace in Versailles, which inflicted a burden of blame and severe repayment on the entire German people, all because the vanity of a small clique of their autocratic former leadership. This effectively laid the groundwork for revanchism and the slide back into autocracy. Contrast this with the Marshall Plan at the end of WW2, which cemented the relation between European countries and the US, single-handedly giving communism in Western Europe a fatal blow, firmly securing the democratic principle and quickly sentencing Soviet-style communism to obscurity among the competing ideologies. Under the circumstances of an unfortunate condition of handing half of Europe over to Soviet Russia (a country which in itself was another piece of "blowback" from WW1), the peace after WW2 must have made Wellington proud.

 

 

"The strength of British policy has been its adaptability to circumstances as they arise; its weakness, that the circumstances (which are usually difficulties) could have been forestalled through forethought. A reflection suggested by the last hundred years of history, especially the history of our affairs in the Mediterranean, is that British policy has been best, not only in spirit but in effect, when it has come nearest to being honest. The counterpull of Britain's moral impulses and material interests produced an amazing series of somersaults in British relations with Turkey. We repeatedly sought to cultivate the Sultan as a counterpoise to French or Russian ambitions in the Near East and as often were driven to take action against him because his behavior to his subjects shocked our sense of justice as well as our sentiments."

 

Maybe this quote needs it's original context, but I think it's interesting to compare his conclusions with the US' policy on the Middle East. Seemingly unconditional support of Israel and Saudi Arabia (and massive military "aid" also to countries such as Egypt), while constantly making "diplomatic somersaults" for example concerning Hosni Mubarak, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. One moment they're the darlings of the "Machiavellians" of American foreign policy, the next they're suddenly enemies. Nevertheless, I think Lidell Hart's important thesis that in order to be a Machiavelli, you've really got to have zero morals is correct, plus even if you achieve your direct objectives, you will have created a more awful world in the long run.

 

While I am in favour of trade and openness towards nations you are sceptical towards, I would advocate only ever giving real aid to your true allies.

Edited by Rostere
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"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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On Wellington, another reason he ranks pretty highly on my list was his concern for his troops as well as his acute understanding of the human cost of war, which comes from my favourite quote about war:

 

"Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won."

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"Turned wrong way round, the relentless unforeseen was what we schoolchildren studied as 'History,' harmless history, where everything unexpected in its own time is chronicled on the page as inevitable. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.”

 

-Philip Roth, The Plot Against America

 

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I don't know if this is getting too off-topic, but whenever I read about 19th-century military commanders, I think about the curious absence of games inspired by that time period. There are a gazillion games in fantasy medieval settings, I would gladly throw any amount of money on a Jagged Alliance/Darklands (or maybe something on a slightly larger scale, like SotHR) type of game where you command a small military contingent in a fantasy or alternate history version of Africa or the Middle East during the Napoleonic era, or perhaps later somewhere in Europe during a revolutionary 1848.

"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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I refuse to take a tennis correspondent (Lidell Hart) into these august halls.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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What about Heinz Guderian.

 

His commentary on tennis was so poor as to render him null in that category. Wouldn't shut up about the skirts.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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I came across this today and figured I'd share it
 
The worst general in American history?

That was the discussion I was having yesterday with several friends. Here is my ranking of their nominees:
 
1. Douglas MacArthur 
2. Benedict Arnold 
3. Ned Almond 
4. Tommy R. Franks 
5. William Westmoreland 
6. George McClellan 
7. Ambrose Burnside 
8. Horatio Gates
 
It was my contest, so I declared MacArthur the No. 1 loser, because of his unique record of being insubordinate to three presidents (Hoover, Roosevelt and Truman) as well as screwing up the Korean War. Plus additional negative points for his role in the gassing and suppression of the Bonus Marchers in 1932. You can't defend a country by undermining it.
 
It really is extraordinary how the Army has extirpated his memory. The influence of Marshall, Eisenhower and Bradley lives on, while MacArthur has been treated as a historical dead end. Kind of amazing, considering he was a general for 26 years, was the Army chief of staff, received the Medal of Honor, fought in three wars and was a senior commander in two.


EDIT: Here's one more where the guy argues his case for each general. It only goes back a couple hundred years but is more than just Americans

Edited by ShadySands

Free games updated 3/4/21

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Ambrose Burnside may have led the Union forces at the utter disaster the was Fredricksburgh, but he does have a redeeming quality:

 

grsideburn.jpg

 

I mean, just check that glorious facial hair out!  :w00t:

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The worst general in American history for me will always be General Mark "F***ing" Clark.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_W._Clark

 

His claim to fame: single-handedly making the entire battle of Monte Cassino pointless, and condemning the Allies to a prolonged painful slog up Italy, rather than capturing hundreds of thousands of German troops in front of Rome.

 

Clark did this completely aware of the consequences, and in defiance of _direct orders_. Just so the vain bastard (he had an aide detailed to preventing bad photos of him) could be photographed 'conquering' Rome.

 

Clark did not even succeed in his vainglorious main intent, however, as the capture of Rome was overshadowed by the D-Day landings.

 

~~

 

By comparison, even fantastic British generals like Redvers Buller pale into insignificance.

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"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

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tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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Since we're on the subject of incompetent military commanders I have to mention this fellow:

 

Darius III

(~380-330 BC)

 

230px-Darius_III_of_Persia.jpg

 

Not only did he underestimate and originally ignore Alexander the Great, to the point that he didn't even bother to show up to the Battle of Granicus, he was then soundly defeated again and again by Alexander while generally commanding far larger (2 or 3 to 1 in some cases) and more powerful forces.  The cherry on top was him repeatedly deserting his armies and peoples and fleeing.

Edited by Keyrock

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Rokossovsky? Please.

 

Vladimir_Triandafillov.jpg

 

Vladimir Triandafillov. The godfather of deep battle. And one of the architects of operational theory. Like many genuinely smart Russians, he was killed by the communists. Can't have intelligent people running around. They're bound to see through communism. Ditto the man who tried to see deep battle to fruition, Mikhail Tukhachevskii:

 

220px-%D0%9C.%D0%9D._%D0%A2%D1%83%D1%85%

 

 

"I am convinced that all that is needed in order to achieve what I want is bravery and self-confidence. I certainly have enough self-confidence... I told myself that I shall either be a general at thirty, or that I shall not be alive by then."

Edited by Walsingham
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"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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Surprised he didn't mention Zhukov first.

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Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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Vladimir Triandafillov. The godfather of deep battle. And one of the architects of operational theory. Like many genuinely smart Russians, he was killed by the communists.

 Oh, nice Western propaganda in Rambo-style. Evil communists so evil!

 

Meanwhile IRL

 

Vladimir was killed in an aircraft crash on July 12, 1931 and was buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis

 

 

Mikhail Tukhachevskii:

Just a traitor bribed by III Reich, member of Fascist counter-revolutionary conspiracy.

 

Anyway these peoples are theorists, they don't participate in real war and because this they can't be described as best generals.

 

P.S. Zhukov in difference with Rokossovsky have some fails, he is not best of the best.  Meanwhile Rokossovsky is best General of WW2.

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