Share This Article

Masters of Battle: Selected Great Warrior Classes, by John Wilcox, Arms & Armour Press, London, 1996, $27.95.

A casual perusal of Masters of Battle: Selected Great Warrior Classes might give the impression that it would be strictly of interest only to military history specialists. That impression would be wrong, because author John Wilcox has carefully constructed his narrative to engage and edify readers of general tastes as well.

The book is devoted to six specific martial groups who, in the author’s judgment, have displayed exceptional skill in their particular line of fighting during their period of history. The Vikings are cited for their skill in amphibious warfare. The English longbowmen played a decisive role in battles during the 1300s and 1400s. The American riflemen at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 are listed due to their talents as marksmen and skirmishers. The Zulu spearmen earned their place in the book by wiping out a technologically superior British force at Isandhlwana in 1879. The Germans have two entries–U-boat captains of World War I and panzer commanders of World War II.

For the benefit of military technicians, Wilcox lays out his criteria and reasoning for including each warrior group. At the same time, however, he includes so much solid background on each class and on the context of events connected with them that the book is of equal interest to the general historian.

John I. Witmer