I think I should just give up and call this my Ancient PTSD blog!
It is that time of year again when someone posts an idea which links modern PTSD with ancient experiences. However, there is a growing trend that is more concerning than the intellectual mistakes or flaws that are inherent in this approach. Since the turn of the 90’s there has been a growing use of ancient ‘examples’ to justify PTSD as a concept (as a way to challenge the prevailing views of old that it was a ‘problem’ or a ‘weakness’ with the people who had it).
This use of ancient history saw the famous works of Jonathan Shay (Achilles in Vietnam, and Odysseus in America) come to the fore, and is in my opinion a good thing. Unfortunately, since the success of Shay’s work, there is a new trend which is to use ancient history to not only validate the diagnosis, but to actually justify therapies and, worse now, to present new ones. Continue reading
Another review! But, unlike my usual reviews, this one is not about a history book but, indeed, a travel/adventure/endurance book. I knew one of the authors (Paul Archer) from our schooldays together, so I was intrigued by this project of his as it grew in magnitude over the medium of social media. Hence the review here! Continue reading
(Review) Ben Hubbard, The Samurai: Swords, Shōguns and Seppuku, (The History Press, 2014)
Pages: 156 ISBN: 978-0-7509-5589-8
A book that claims to offer a “complete, concise account of samurai history and culture” in just under 160 pages is either purposefully misleading or downright deluded. To even think that 1,000 years of history, numerous political and social upheavals, various religious syncretisms – and more importantly for the topic of this book, the evolution and changes in warfare – can be surmised without missing important elements is, at best, very naïve. That is not to say that this book is not well written, and an entertaining read at times but it suffers with two important elements: structure and idealism. Continue reading
I have decided to add a ‘book review’ section to my blog because, well, I get asked to write a lot of book reviews! So here’s one to start it off which I particularly enjoyed reading:
(Review) James Waterson, Defending Heaven: China’s Mongol Wars 1209-1370, (Frontline Books, 2013)
Pages: 236 ISBN: 9781848326606
Asian medieval history is a very alien world when compared to European medieval history; especially when it concerns military history. At the drop of a hat, the Song dynasty could muster an army of 2-300,000 men; they could have a state-funded, standing army of over 1,000,000 men; they could throw explosives around a battlefield; and they could fire projectiles with the aid of gunpowder – this just wasn’t imaginable in Europe at that time. What they could not do was stop the Mongol tide from washing over their lands, and a major cause of this will sound very familiar to European historians – they could never unite and face the Mongols as a single force. Continue reading
As I predicted, my blog has become rather quiet as of late; apologies! I have been winding down my freelance work to focus on my books and PhD, so there has been little time for things like this.
Anyway, a quick update. A joint article has come out which pits myself against Dr. Jason Crowley, tackling the PTSD in Ancient Greece debate. I’m particularly pleased with this one, not just for the content, nor for the privilege of sharing the page with one of the foremost experts on the topic, but also because the editors of AW re-arranged their templates to pose both arguments side by side giving it the real feel of a debate. It was left open for conclusions, as the point was to make people come up with their own, which hopefully it has done. I have since had an article published on Ancient Greek military homecomings, and another on the campaigns of Brasidas in the Peloponnesian War.
Once I have completed my last article, which is a debate piece concerning the ineptitude or ingenuity of Greek sieges, I will have time to work more on my second book which will be a companion/follow up to my first. Great Battles is with the typesetter at the moment and is available to pre-order, for those so inclined (excuse the shameless plug). And, while Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World is not as far along as I had hoped at this stage, it is certainly a lot of fun to write, and should be out the end of next year.
So other than that I am giving a few papers through the year; one in Gothenburg, on Greek siege-craft, which I am very excited about, and another in London, on classical Greek military departure scenes, which I will post about again soon I think.