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Call to Arms: Great Military Speeches from Ancient Greece to the Modern World


Throughout history, great leaders have used the power of oratory to embolden and inspire their troops. Call to arms presents the transcripts and stories of momentous speeches from more than 50 remarkable warriors – from heads of state, admirals and generals to officers and rank and file soldiers.

Included here are words of war from Julius Caesar, Henry V, Joan of Arc, Francis Drake, Elizabeth I, Oliver Cromwell, George Washington, the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon, Horatio Nelson, Ferdinand Foch, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, George. S. Patton and Bernard ‘Monty’ Montgomery, as well as many others whose heartfelt rhetoric has impelled their men to fight and to face death.

Beginning with Alexander the Great’s address before his victory at Issus 333 BC, and concluding with the rousing words of lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, these speeches encompass numerous eras and many theatres of war. But whatever their context, each recalls the drama of battle and offers a first-hand perspective on history’s most significant conflicts.

This stirring collection features Elizabeth I’s famous speech to her troops at Tilbury as they prepared to repel the Spanish Armada, and the Duke of Wellington’s conviction that ‘I can do the business’ before the battle of Waterloo. Also included is perhaps the most important military speech in British history, Montgomery’s morale-boosting message to the Eighth Army, launching them to victory at Alamein, as well as Churchill’s powerful broadcasts to an embattled Britain and her allies.

Interweaved with these speeches and quotations is Julian Thompson’s richly informative commentary, detailing the historical background of each address and its consequences, alongside the stories of the speechmakers themselves. Complemented with striking black and white images, call to Arms is a vivid overview of more than 2000 years of military history.


Julian Thompson has acted as consultant and presenter of D-Day, VE Day and VJ Day television programmes for the BBC....