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In Words and Deeds
Battle Speeches in History
Richard F. Miller

2008 • 432 pp. 6 x 9"
Military History / Political Science & Government

$35.00 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-731-6

“Richard Miller has compiled a superb and unique collection of battle speeches in his work In Words and Deeds. These are inspiring words that capture the emotion and historical importance... [continued in Reviews below]”—General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.),

The first-ever survey of inspirational battle speeches from Greco-Roman times to the present

Throughout recorded military history, leaders have persuaded men to risk life and limb for God, country, unit, comrades, and families; for plunder, vengeance, glory, a lasting peace, or new conquests. Beginning with the holy wars of the Hebrew Bible and continuing to the present Iraq conflict, one constant motivator of men in war has been the battle speech: the exhortatory words uttered by commanders on the eve of invasions and before, during, after, and between battles.

In Greco-Roman times, battle speeches, as recorded (or invented) by historians such as Herodotus, Thucydides, and Livy were considered literary creations of a high order. In the centuries that followed, both biblical and Greco-Roman narratives established the templates that have influenced military exhortations to the present day. Emotions inspired by the battle speech might be universal, but conceptions of God, the rules of war, and the proper objects of warfare have evolved to reflect changes in cultural norms, military organization, and technology.

Richard F. Miller offers the first systemic classification of battle speeches while exploring how their contents have changed over time. Speeches are classified based on their chronological relation to the battle or tactical circumstance the speaker seeks to address. In many situations, deeds accompany words in a continuum of action that renders both action and words inseparable. Thus, Miller often analyzes both components in a battle sequence.

In Words and Deeds relies chiefly on primary texts written either by soldier-participants, or, in the case of the Hebrew Bible and certain Greco-Roman accounts, the most important surviving texts of the ancient wars. For modern European and American military history, the sources are almost exclusively first-hand accounts contained in soldiers’ diaries, letters, after-action reports, and memoirs. Secondary sources are used to extract first-hand accounts of words and deeds or to support conclusions about how such speeches have evolved.

Reviews / Endorsements

“Richard Miller has compiled a superb and unique collection of battle speeches in his work In Words and Deeds. These are inspiring words that capture the emotion and historical importance of powerful moments before and during battle. This outstanding book is a must-read for all that want to understand those moments in a way the dry reading of historical facts can never convey.”—General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.)

“Drawing upon the history of warfare from the earliest recorded conflicts to the present day, In Word and Deeds masterfully analyzes speech as an enhancer of military power. This book will serve as a valuable guide in the hands of anyone seeking to motivate a group for combat or any other daunting enterprise.”—Mark Moyar, author of Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965

“An essential component of leadership too often neglected. This book should be studied—and practiced—by all who command soldiers under stress.”—Bing West, author of The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq

“Richard Miller's book In Words and Deeds captures the essence of historical and significant battle speeches and how those words inspired men into battle. In my military career, I had the opportunity to hear and follow great and eloquent communicators who had vision and clarity of mission. Men in battle are led through words and deeds of their higher and lower level commanders and leaders that instill discipline and focus. I commend Mr. Miller in this important literary work that clearly explains words and deeds experienced on our historical battlefields.”—Major General Paul E. Vallely, USA (Ret.), host of "Stand Up America"

Author Photo

RICHARD F. MILLER is the author of Harvard’s Civil War: The History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (2005) and A Carrier At War: On Board the USS Kitty Hawk in the Iraq War (2005) and co-author (with Robert F. Mooney) of The Civil War: The Nantucket Experience (1994). A Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Miller is a graduate of Harvard and Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:56:09 -0500