Sunday, May 28, 2017


My culture-vulture tendencies were already evident as a teenager, when I sought to supplement the somewhat meager offerings of my high school by reading the classics. Among the Greeks it was natural to start with the Iliad and the Odyssey. Then I progressed to Xenophon's Anabasis. 
Coming from a non-military family it did not mean much to me at the time. But recently I have been pondering this text again. In fact Xenophon created a whole new genre of literature' the soldier's tale . 
Although a general, Xenophon served in the front lines and had a comprehensive picture. Eventually this tradition bifurcated into two types. There were the accounts of generals, such as Grant, Sherman, and Eisenhower, who operated of necessity from the safe redoubts of their headquarters vs. the countless memoirs of common grunts, who reported from their front-line experience. The latter tradition achieved early classic status in Stendhal's deliberately confusing account of Waterloo.


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