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  1. One might also fault Alexander's grand strategy; young and vigorous, he never thought of providing a successor. His death was unexpected but his style of warfare was risky to the nth, leading cavalry charges himself he was frequently wounded. Improvident? Ultimately, the vacancy at the top allowed his empire to disintegrate into a 40-year period of war and chaos. The power vacuum saw the murders of his mother, wives, and children, and the empire was eventually divided among his generals. Alexander's dynasty, if that was his goal, never materialized.
  2. Back in the early 1980s, the Guinness Book of World Records made a study of the most written-about persons in history. The most popular were Napoleon, Christ, and Lincoln. However, Guinness awarded Muhammed Ali number one. Really? Well, he was big back then.
  3. Even if Napoleon had won the battle of Waterloo, he would've lost in the end;. Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, and Austria were gathering to crush him. It was a matter of numbers. Nevertheless, aside from grand strategy, he was supreme as a general on the field of battle. A clever fellow named Ethan Arsht had the interesting idea of applying baseball sabermetrics to the ranking of prominent generals. His system calculated the total wins added (or subtracted) by the player compared to a replacement-level player. He weighted a general’s numerical advantage or disadvantage compared to their adversary to better isolate the general’s ability as a tactician. "Napoleon is so far ahead of the normal distribution curve created by the data for these 6,000-plus generals, it’s not even close. After 43 battles, he has a WAR score of more than 16, which blows the competition away. There can be no question: Napoleon is the greatest tactical general of all time, and the math proves it." https://towardsdatascience.com/napoleon-was-the-best-general-ever-and-the-math-proves-it-86efed303eeb Ever seen "Moneyball"? This historian determined the 10 best generals in history. Guess who's number 1? https://www.wearethemighty.com/mighty-history/best-generals-ranked-by-statistics/ Caesar was #2.
  4. We know a great deal about Alexander. Contemporaries wrote accounts of his life. At his height, Napoleon was a worldwide celebrity; he exuded charisma. I submit that if the little emperor was reanimated more than a few of us fall at his feet, kill for him, and throw ourselves into battle at his nod. His mojo was that powerful.
  5. In some ways there's an inherent unfairness in demoting Napoleon to a not-quite-great commander; as the head of state, he faced enormous challenges and decisions that would spare mere generals like Wellington, Blucher, or Kutuzov. Unlike them, he operated at every level. Was he stretched to thin? However, Alexander and Genghis seemed to manage.
  6. Debate: Napoleon's military career presents a paradox. As a tactician, he was superb, perhaps unequaled, but in the field of strategy, he was prone to making incredibly gross blunders, such as the invasions of Spain and Russia. Doesn't a great commander strive above all to avoid disastrous errors? It's hard to second-guess such generals as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, or Tamerlane who were never defeated. In the end, Napoleon's conquests proved ephemeral, he would leave the territory of France smaller than it was in 1789. Grand strategy just wasn't his strong suit.
  7. Not only did the Nuremberg commission administer IQ tests to the prisoners but also Rorschach tests, ten in all. They were asked to elaborate on what they saw. Frank (senior nazi): Those are my darling bears. They’re holding a bottle. Beautiful prima ballerina dancing in white dresses with red light shining from below.Rudolf Hess (Deputy Führer): Two men talking about a crime. Blood is on their mind.Hermann Göring (Hitler’s #2): [laughs] Those are two dancing figures, very clear, shoulder her and face there, clapping hands. [cuts off the bottom part with hand] Top red is head and hat; the face is partially white.https://historyofyesterday.com/the-resu ... a5e442f37cOne of the psychologists that diagnosed Goering's Rorschach test remarked on his "emptiness of his being" and that when he reported the hat as red, it "indicates an emotional preoccupation with status." Quite a leap. It seems a better take on Goering's personality was offered in the 1970s by Joel Dimsdale (1), an American psychiatrist and Holocaust researcher: "[Goering] was a chameleon in terms of shaping his behavior based on audience. He could be warm and charming, or brutal," Were the tests worth it? The Rorschach assessments were never presented as evidence at Nuremberg. The tests of Nazi leaders were commingled with contemporary tests for mental patients and members of the clergy, and the experts could not distinguish the results for the Nazis from those of the clergy. Rorschach tests were en vogue at the time but are now little used, essentially a passing fad.1- Survivors, Victims, and Perpetrators: Essays on the Nazi Holocaust. 1980
  8. At Nuremberg, the International Military Tribunal was tasked to try the 24 most important players (1) in the 3rd Reich. As the weeks passed, the Tribunal sought convictions, but their members began to speculate on the prisoners' motivations. What drove them? Were the commandants of the death camps psychopaths or simply mentally ill? Or were they just ordinary men who made appalling decisions? Clearly, there was something fundamental that separated them from the rest of humanity.The defendants may have been morally twisted but it appears they were exceptionally intelligent.Hjalmar SchachtWith the aid of psychologists, the Tribunal submitted the prisoners to the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Test, one of the premier IQ tests (2). A score above 128 was considered "superior", only 2% of the population scored in that range. The average score of the Germans was 128. The winner was Hjalmar Schacht at 141, Goering scored 138. The dummy on the list was Julius Streicher at 106, still above average according to the test.The psychologists gave the scores to the Nazis; they were delighted, it was a diversion from the constant boredom of solitary confinement. The men compared their results with their co-prisoners and argued good-naturedly over bragging rights. Franz von Papen (Score: 134) said that IQ testing was one of the most enjoyable moments of their captivity.Is there a lesson in there? One assumes that most great enterprises are- ipso facto- composed of smart and ambitious men (or women) in their higher echelons. But the cleavage between morality and intelligence was rarely so strikingly apparent as in the Nazi state.The list:http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/f ... dants.html(1) It turned out to be 22. Martin Bormann was tried in absentia and Robert Ley committed suicide within a week of the trial’s commencement.(2) The Nazis were very familiar with intelligence testing; the government authorized the murder of children with various mental deficiencies.
  9. Grant was 5'8, 2 inches above the average height of the time, and during the war, his weight was a svelte 130lbs. However, he was physically powerful; while working for his father-in-law in Galena neighbors were stunned to watch him toss 100lb burlap bags onto a wagon. Some other interesting factoids: *He was not especially studious at West Point and read a lot of novels available to him in the library. It was said of him that he never read a lesson over more than twice and did not actually "study" it. He excelled in mathematics. *In the heat of battle, when his staff officers were full of anxiety, Grant calmly smoked his cigar and never lost his composure. His nerves of steel were a wonder to all around him. He could write dispatches while shells burst around him and never flinch. *Grant was very thin during the war, weighing only one hundred and thirty-five pounds. He was a very sparse eater. He abhorred red meat of any kind, and the sight of blood made him ill. *He had a superstition of retracing his steps. *Grant did not believe in holding formal councils of war. He felt that they "divided a responsibility that would at times prevent a unity of action." He listened to the advice of his staff, and then, upon reflection, made the final decision himself. No one knew of his decision until it was put into effect. *Grant was tone deaf and could not recognize any of the light airs of the time; military music was especially annoying to him. *During his lifetime General Grant suffered intense migraine headaches which were sometimes reported as bouts of drunkenness. *Reticence has long been associated with Ulysses Grant. Although he was an avid listener, in the relaxed company of friends, he could actually be a raconteur. https://libguides.css.edu/usgrant/home/upclose Quote Share
  10. Grant joined the Sons of Temperance, a precursor of Alcoholic Anonymous.It seems that back then it was assumed that drunkenness was a male thing. Re: The Civil War. Can we agree that the Confederacy was doomed from the start and the only factors that kept it alive for four years were enthusiasm and (at first) superior commanders? And despite Lee's (or Jubal Early's) invasion of the North, interior lines.
  11. I saw Lieut. Grant. He has altered very much: he is a short thick man with a beard reaching halfway down his waist and I fear he drinks too much but don't you say a word on that subject. -John Lowe, Grant's West Point classmate during the Mexico campaign. The genetic component of alcoholism these days is now considered settled science. Ulysses S. Grant's father was a teetotaler but his grandfather, Noah, was not. His drinking caused him to squander a comfortable estate and leave the youngest children to be adopted by neighbors. Grant's son was arrested by George Custer for chronic drunkenness during the Black Hills expedition in 1874. It was during Grant's outstanding service in the Mexican War, a conflict punctuated by many long periods of inactivity and boredom, that Grant realized that he might have "a problem". After his marriage to Julia, in 1848, he was assigned as an officer at a post near Ontario. At that cold and isolated outpost he resorted to booze, but always self-aware he decided to quit altogether in 1851. He wrote Julia: "I have become convinced that there is no safety from ruin by liquor except by abstaining from it altogether." Grant joined the Sons of Temperance, a precursor of Alcoholic Anonymous. It didn't last; his next military assignment to the Pacific Coast would break his solemn vow. His roommate: "I would hear him once or twice, sometimes more, open the door quietly and walk softly over the floor, so as not to disturb him; then I would hear the clink of the glass and a gurgle." Grant was forced to resign. After his separation from the army, Grant returned to Missouri with Julia and their four children; they led a hardscrabble life. He sold firewood door-to-door and he was often compelled to borrow money from her slave-owning father, a humiliation, and he began again to resort to the bottle. But Grant's father came to his rescue; he proposed that he join his brothers' leather shop in Illinois. There he was able to pay off his debts to Julia's father and during that time it appears he was sober. Nevertheless, Grant felt unfulfilled and following Fort Sumter, he jumped at the chance to become a colonel in the 21st Illinois Volunteers. The rest is history. Many historians assert that Grant’s penchant for binge drinking was kept in check by his teetotaler adjutant, Colonel John Rawlins, but rumors that he was intoxicated during and after battles swirled around him for most of the war. These rumors may be exaggerated, however, Grant did suffer occasional relapses although he would go cold turkey during very long periods. But a reporter from the Herald Tribune was stunned to find the General in a state of intoxication during the bloody battle of Shiloh in 1862. Also, there's strong evidence that during the siege of Vicksburg- a tedious, long drawn out affair- he occasionally fell off the wagon. (1) Grant was never a mean or obnoxious drunk but, in the words of the historian, Ron Chernow, liquor reduced him to a “babbling, childlike state", something that unnerved his lieutenants during his rare lapses while prosecuting the war. They also observed that after one glass of liquor, Grant's speech would become slurred and two or three would make him stupid. Their strong reservations about the General reached the unperturbed Lincoln who remarked “Tell them you’re going to find out what brand he drinks, and then send a case to all your other generals." (2) SUMMARY The preponderance of evidence tells us that Grant was an alcoholic, albeit a functioning one. In the 19th century, most people drank far more than today; Americans over the age of 15 consumed on average seven gallons of alcohol — generally whiskey or hard cider — each year. (3) However, at headquarters, officers were expected to hold their liquor. Grant couldn't and he knew it, when the craving came upon him he would imbibe alone, Today we understand that alcoholism is a disease. One of the most frustrating factors in dealing with alcoholism is it is almost always accompanied by a phenomenon known as denial—a refusal to admit the truth or reality of the condition. Grant was an exception to that rule, he was fully aware of his devil within thus his successful career may be attributed to pure will. 1- But Grant had a critical asset, his wife, Julia, who with his oldest son were often present at headquarters. With her, he stayed sober. 2- Another version: “for if it made fighting generals like Grant, I should like to get some of it for distribution.” 3- (lost link)
  12. Last month, February 6, was the birthday of Eva Braun; it passed unnoticed. The Braun family might have celebrated but their members are extinct; Eva's father died in 1964 and the final member, Gretl, died in 1987. She had named her daughter Eva, in honor of her sister, who was born on the very day of the Nazi capitulation. That Eva committed suicide in 1975 after her boyfriend was killed in a car accident. The star-crossed family leaves one with a sense of futility, all that drama and turbulence gone like a brief summer breeze.Eva Braun was born in 1912 into a lower-middle-class Bavarian family and she was educated in Catholic schools. Her grades were mediocre but she excelled in sports; swimming and skiing. In 1929 she was employed as a saleswoman and model in the shop of Heinrich Hoffman, Hitler’s photographer, and in this way met the rising politician. Eva was not initially impressed, she confided to a sister calling him "a gentleman of a certain age [Hitler was 23 years older] with a funny mustache and carrying a big felt hat.” But Hitler, a constant visitor to the shop, was persistent, showering her effusive compliments. She surrendered. After the controversial death of Geli Raubal, Hitler’s niece, Eva became his mistress, living in his Munich flat and trying acting despite the fierce opposition of her father. In 1936, Hitler decided to move her to the Berghof on the Obersalzberg, concerned about her stability; the year before, suspecting female rivals, she had made a second suicide attempt. There she remained until the Bunker and Götterdämmerung.Goodness is as banal as evil and may exist in the most unlikely people: even Hitler's mistress.-Angela LambertAt the Berghof Eva acted as a hostess; she was gracious with the constant guests and kind to the help. Although an ardent proponent of German victory, she never joined the Nazi party and no one heard her utter an anti-Semitic word. (1) She shared with Hitler a love of dogs. Eva was a prolific photographer; her folksy home movies at the Berghof have left us rich historical documents. But, the frivolity... Eva spent most of her time exercising, brooding, reading cheap novelettes, watching romantic films, or concerning herself with her own appearance, particularly her weight. She was addicted to fashion and changed her clothes several times a day. Needy, she obsessed over Hitler's attentions or lack thereof; Dr Morell claimed that she asked her to give Hitler drugs to boost his sexual appetite. In her diary, Eva boasted "I am the mistress of the greatest man in Germany and in the world." However, she resented that they rarely appeared in public together and that few Germans even knew of her existence. According to Albert Speer's memoirs, Eva approached Hitler in "high indignation"; Hitler quietly instructed Speer, who was armaments minister at the time, to allow limited availability of women's cosmetics and luxuries rather than instituting an outright ban, Speer later said, "Eva Braun will prove a great disappointment to historians."Eva had her other moments of defiance. She was the only person who would dare to declare, “I’m going to bed!” during one of Hitler’s endless nighttime monologues. And she made it clear that she was repelled by his vegetarian diet. "I can't eat that stuff". Was Eva a victim of Hitler's manipulative, Svengali-like wiles? It seems she was carefully selected and groomed by him as a symbol of unthreatening and devoted (and blond) German womanhood. The extent of their sexual life is veiled in mystery. There is no doubt that she would have had led an entirely different, and probably happier, life if the meeting in the photography shop had never happened.As the Reich began to crumble in late 1944, she invited her cousin Gertraud Weisker to visit her at the Berghof. Decades later, Weisker recalled that although women in the Third Reich were expected not to wear make-up, drink, or smoke, Braun did all of these things. "She was the unhappiest woman I have ever met," Eva Braun's diary:https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/eva-braun-s-diary1- There is some controversy over Braun's awareness of the Holocaust
  13. You're right, not at all. I've posted, from time to time, several essays on the General Discussion forum (there's another?) without kickback; the goal is simply diversion, this is a well educated group here whose nicks are familiar- I'm an owner of CM1. These essays are derived on various history-themed sites where I post. Continue or not?
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