"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

30 December 2019


The book showcases a multitude of moments that an institutional insistence on studying history paid off for Mattis and his Marines. During the first Gulf War, Mattis adapted a technique used by Roman legions, which built rectangular camps. He organized his camp in a triangular shape so that every man knew where he fit. “The triangle always pointed north toward the enemy,” Mattis remembers. “We continued this routine for months, sleeping on the ground without cots. At night we sat together like Horatio Nelson’s lieutenants, arguing tactics by moving rocks to simulate units. …

“Sitting on sand dunes, I pulled out books I carried in my rucksack that revealed how others had handled desert warfare,” he adds. “Using a technique I had found in my reading, I intended to gather information that bypassed normal reporting channels by means of ‘focused telescopes.’ I copied this from Frederick the Great, Wellington, and Rommel, among others.”


General Mattis' reading list is HERE.

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