The LCMSDS is excited to share a new podcast hosted by Professor Darryl Dee, on the great battles of history:
This podcast explores some of the most famous and most important battles in world history from ancient times to the Second World War. Each episode dives deeply into a single battle, investigating its origins, the course of combat, and the outcomes. We will examine the contending forces, including some of history’s most celebrated armies, navies, and air forces. We will meet great captains like Hannibal Barca, Saladin, Napoleon, and Chester Nimitz. We will also delve into the experiences of the soldier at the sharp end: the Spartan hoplite at Thermopylae, the English longbowman at Agincourt, the mounted samurai at Nagashino, the Soviet tanker at Kursk. Battles are regarded as events that change the course of history; the most important have been described as decisive. We will come to question this idea, for, as we’ll see, while a handful of battles do qualify as momentous, epochal turning points, most others—including not a few widely considered decisive—changed very little if anything at all. Finally, battles are more than just exercises of pure strategy and tactics; they are artifacts— creations of the political, social, economic and cultural forces of their times. To investigate great battles is to open up history in its widest sense.
Great Battles in History opens with the Battle of Thermopylae:
In the late summer of 480 BCE, a Greek force of 1,000 hoplites from Thebes, Thespiae, and, most famously, Sparta, under the command of the Spartan king Leonidas, was surrounded and wiped out in the pass of Thermopylae by the invading Persian army of Great King Xerxes. The Battle of Thermopylae is the most well-known battle of the ancient wars between the Greeks and the Persians. It is also the most famous last stand in history. This episode examines the Greeks and the Persians, how they came into conflict, the events that led to their clash at Thermopylae, the three days of fighting in the pass, and the consequences of the battle. It concludes by tracing how Thermopylae was transformed into a legend of heroic sacrifice that resonates in Western culture right down to the present day.
Darryl Dee is an Associate Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON. He is interested in 17th- and 18th-century French history, particularly the reign of Louis XIV, the famous Sun King. He is currently working on two research projects. The first examines the uses and abuses of money during the period 1680 to 1726. The second project is a multifaceted analysis of 1709, a year of military, political, economic and ecological crises in France. He has appeared as a guest on the LCMSDS’s On War & Society podcast, where he discussed his research and the myth of decisive battles.