Secrets of Warfare by William Weir - Book review

Secrets of Warfare

Exposing the Myths and Hidden History of Weapons and Battles

By: William Weir

Published: August 15, 2011
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
ISBN-10: 1601631553
ISBN-13: 978-1601631558
Publisher: New Page Books

"In military "history" there are oodles of myths. Here are some of them, along with the truth and, where known, the motives of the myth-makers", writes retired industrial editor and freelance magazine writer, William Weir, in his fascinating and thought provoking book Secrets of Warfare: Exposing the Myths and Hidden History of Weapons and Battles. The author takes the reader on a panoramic tour of warfare myths that have endured through the ages, and examines how and why those false and misleading ideas were created and lasted for so long.

William |Weir, as a veteran of military conflict during the Korean War, understands first hand the dangers and horror of warfare. The author examines a series of myths, some well known and others less so, from ancient times to the modern world. In each of the intriguing chapters, William Weir points out the misconceptions or even outright lies that have been passed down and accepted as truth. For the author, these myths not only do a disservice to history, but they often lead people to misunderstand the true intentions of the leaders involved, creating a complete misinterpretation of events. These often deliberate motives for altering the historical record were dangerous in the past, and the same motives remain a danger in the modern world.

William Weir (photo left) recognizes that with warfare, as with any other area of history, a series of causes and effects, motives of different leaders, and roles of entire societies has all too often led to war. The same forces of history are at work in today's world as well. In history, as well as every other human endeavor, truth is essential to understanding and making sense of events. For William Weir, the only solution is to expose the errors, whether accidental or deliberate, and replace them with an accurate account of events, even if the truth is not as pleasant or comforting as the false myths. With warfare being the most dangerous and life threatening event in human society, it's paramount that the truth shine through, and the false interpretations be discarded. For William Weir, ignorance of history leads to the same mistakes and tragedies taking place over and over again.

For me, the power of the book is how William Weir addresses both the large scale myths of history, as well as the smaller and often more pervasive misinterpretation of events. The author examines the overarching myth that Western forces and societies have been supreme since ancient times. This myth has persisted, and clouds decision making to this day, underlining the critical importance of understanding the real history of the world. The author points out as well, that the misinterpretation of events was not always the result of lack of historical materials or records, but were myths created deliberately by the decision makers of the day.

Wherever possible, William Weir has made a point of outlining the true motives behind the leaders and their intentional clouding of the facts. This open eyed examination of events is as important today as it is for the study of historical events.

I highly recommend the conventional wisdom challenging book Secrets of Warfare: Exposing the Myths and Hidden History of Weapons and Battles by William Weir, to anyone who is concerned about understanding how historical events really took place, and the motives that caused leaders and some historians to alter facts to suit other agendas. This book is as much a commentary on today's events, where warfare threatens the lives of millions and even billions of people, and how to avoid the mistakes of the past through understanding the facts and exposing the myths and deliberate falsehoods.

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