Hannibal Barca was Rome’s greatest military enemy. He almost toppled their republic during the Second Punic War, and The Ghosts of Cannae explains the history in dry detail.
Popular history remembers Hannibal as the guy who led an army across the Alps to Italy, a huge fighting force that consisted mostly of foot soldiers, but also included cavalry and war elephants. When asked how he intended to do this, he famously said:
We will find a way, or we will make one.Hannibal “Suck It” Barca
Of the many takeaways in this book, the one that sticks out the most in my mind is Hannibal’s fixation on elephants in combat.
Tank warfare didn’t exist yet, but he clearly envisioned having heavy, powerful units on the battlefield that could crush enemy troops. He was so hooked on this that he had the elephants trained for it despite the fact that they were expensive to find, train, and transport.
Economic resources were a lot more real back then too. You couldn’t just buy things on a credit card, you had to either pay for things, conquer them, or enslave their producers.
Even worse, the elephants were not effective on the battlefield. A lot of them died in the Alps, and the few survivors spooked when attacked.
Ultimately the vision didn’t match up with the reality. No matter how much he wanted it to work, it was a huge waste of resources and he couldn’t force that to change.
Makes me wonder what I’m doing in that same vein. What ideas and methods am I committed to in my craft that sound cool but don’t work?
I need to reflect on that. Need to find the answer and change tactics.
Get back to work.