Sunday, July 03, 2016

"Tactical Laxatives"

Karl Marx wrote, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

Therefore, a science fiction writer, or a humorist, or epic fantasy movie-maker may well be inspired by history. My beach-read this week is war-studies-historian Philip Sidnell's "Midnight Ninja & Tactical Laxatives" ISBN 978-1848-843318, which is a well-sorted collection of fact-based narratives of dark doings and dirty deeds to debilitate, demoralize and otherwise incapacitate enemie.

Napoleon Bonaparte said, "An army marches on its stomach." (A reference to the importance of logistics and provisions.) However, as Sidnell's book points out, an army neither marches nor fights effectively when it is suffering from indigestion, food poisoning, alcohol poisoning, or diarrhoea... with the notable exception of Alexander the Great who did not let a little think like dysentery stop him from marching 150 miles in three days and nights to relieve Maracanda (a garrison).

Apparently, Alexander the Great died in bed aged thirty-three. Historians speculate that the cause of death may have been an accidental overdose of pain-killers.

Tactics to slow down the enemy included allowing the ravenous enemy to "capture" and consume cattle (raw) in woodless wastelands;  buzz-inducing honey; mandragora-spiked booze to invaders eager to celebrate an unexpected route of their foes with the liquid spoils of war; and hellebore-tainted water to the thirsty beseiged.

What worked for the ancient Persians, Romans, Greeks, and Macedonians can and does work for Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and perhaps for you????

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

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