Texas Tech University

Masters of Command:

Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar and the Genius of Leadership

Dr. Barry Strauss

Professor of History and Professor of Classics, Cornell University

Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar were the three greatest generals of the ancient world. Each was a master of war. Each had to look beyond the battlefield to decide whom to fight, when, and why; to know what victory was and when to end the war; to determine how to bring stability to the lands he conquered. Each general had to be a battlefield tactician and more: a statesman, a strategist, a leader. Each of them had great success but also great failure. How do they stack up in a comparison? What are the enduring lessons for today? Tactics change, weapons change, but war itself remains much the same throughout the centuries, and a great warrior must know how to define success. Understanding where each of these three great (but flawed) commanders succeeded and failed can serve anyone who wants to think strategically or who has to demonstrate leadership.

Dr. Strauss (B.A. Cornell University, M.A. and Ph.D. Yale University) is an expert on ancient military history. Within the ancient world he focuses on Greece—with Rome a close second—. As a military historian, his main interests are battle and strategy; I work on naval history as well. I have comparative interests in modern military history and in East Asian (especially Korean) history. He has lived and studied in Greece, Germany, and Israel and has traveled extensively in Italy, Turkey, Croatia, Cyprus, Jordan, Tunisia, and other countries with classical sites; he has also taken part in archaeological excavations. He speaks and reads seven foreign languages.

He is the author of six books, including The Battle of Salamis (2004), named one of the Best Books of 2004 by The Washington Post, and The Trojan War: A New History (2006). Writing in The Washington Post, Tom Holland hailed his book The Spartacus War (2009) for having “all the excitement of a thriller.” Books & Culture named it one of its favorite books of 2009. His Rowing Against the Current: On Learning to Scull at Forty (2002) enjoys a sort of underground existence as an account of athletic angst. The books have been translated into seven foreign languages, from French to Korean. Dr. Strauss is also co-author of two other books, and co-editor of two more. He has written many scholarly articles, reviews, and book chapters. He is Series Editor of the Princeton History of the Ancient World and Contributing Editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. His op-eds have appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, the L.A. Times, and Newsday.

Dr. Strauss' lecture was held in the Escondido Theatre at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, September 10, 2012.

This event was cosponsored by the Department of History, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Honors College and the History Graduate Student Organization.

The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization