Valor of Male and Female Warriors Around the World

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This book examines human courage and cowardice in combat in many parts of the world in recent times and in the distant past. The result is an introduction to an essential attribute of humanity – the quest for self-respect and the respect of others. The first chapter examines the role of women in war, from the earliest days to the present time. It presents a detailed review of the “Amazons,” women warriors of West Africa. Chapter Two reviews warfare in Africa, particularly the shocking Zulu defeat of British regular troops in 1879. The next chapters discuss the “Charge of the Light Brigade” during the Crimean War, the epic battle of the Alamo, the War of 1812, the battle of Waterloo and the American Civil War, the Vietnam War, the Aztecs, Mayans, and Inca, and chapter eight reviews combat in India and Tibet. The final chapter looks at warfare in the world’s many small societies.


“Courage in combat arises from two sources: the self-preservation motive that leads to the defense of self and family (spouse and children), home sites and settlements, and areas that provide sustenance. Cross-cultural research has snow that when settlements are attacked – when they are targets of raids – it is the men who are more likely to be killed ... Furthermore, political leaders from headmen to monarchs are singled out to be killed. Raiders seek the enemy leader in uncentralized political systems. On the other hand, political assassination is an ever-present possibility for the leader of a centralized political system. If captured, the leader will probably be executed. Just as being a courageous combatant is viewed as being meritorious by one’s culture, being a captured leader may lead to martyrdom if courage is maintained in the face of death (e.g., Jesus, Joan of Arc, and William Wallace). The second source of courage is the socialization of young males (and sometimes females) to want to participate in combat ...

The ancient Greeks became the model for courage in the western world. Hoplite soldiers set the standard, from the wars of the Greek city-states to Xenophon’s Anabasis. This has so impressed classicist Victor Davis Hanson that he claims that the Greeks invented the Western Way of War, a form of warfare that emphasizes courage of citizen-soldiers. For Hanson, free men make the best soldiers ...” – (from the Preface) Professor Keith Otterbein, State University of New York at Buffalo

“This unique collection of case studies is richly worldwide including small societies found around the globe where warfare is sometimes practically non-existent, thereby validating Dr. Edgerton’s claim that courage in warfare is not innate but culturally constituted. A special asset of the book is wide coverage of the United States emphasizing valor in ethnic diversity, such as the Mexican War, Little Big Horn, Normandy, Vietnam and the Iraqi Gulf War. In a superb gender chapter, we learn in opposition to prevailing opinion that women are to be numbered among courageous warriors, as, for example, the Amazon armies of West Africa described admirably by the French Foreign Legionnaire: ‘These young women were far and away the best ... and woman to man was quite a match for any of us.’ This book will rivet the reader with its engaging writing style where fact combines with analysis in a most creative way.” – Professor Philip L. Kilbridge, Bryn Mawr College

Table of Contents

Preface by Keith Otterbein
1. Women at War
2. “They Fought Like Lions”: African Warriors
3. “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and Other Bloody Wars
4. The Alamo and the Mexican War
5. The War of 1812, Waterloo, the American Civil War, Algeria
6. Vietnam, Iraq and Korea
7. The Aztecs, Mayans and Inca
8. India and Tibet: “Valor Triumphs”
9. Small Societies Around the World

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