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How to Lose a Battle: Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders by Bill Fawcett
Review by Paul Haggerty
Harper Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780060760243
Date: 01 July 2006 List Price $13.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Official Site / Show Article /

History is said to be written by the winners, but it's summarized, edited and assembled into easy to read collections by historians. In this case, Bill Fawcett has collected essays on thirty-five famous battles from the Battle of Arbela, Persia in 331 BC to Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam in 1954. How did Alexander defeat a Persian army three times larger, and on the Persians home turf? How did Publius Quinctilius Varus lose three Roman legions in the Teutoburg Forest, and to his nominal allies at that? Why did a squabble between two civil war generals lead to the sabotage of a plan that could have ended the war a year earlier? And how did a modern French army, equipped with the best military hardware of the 20th century, lose to what the commander considered nothing but a bunch of Vietnamese peasants?

From official release/information:

Book Description: A remarkable compendium of the worst military decisions and the men who made them

The annals of history are littered with horribly bad military leaders. These combat incompetents found amazing ways to ensure their army's defeat. Whether it was a lack of proper planning, miscalculation, ego, bad luck, or just plain stupidity, certain wartime stratagems should never have left the drawing board. Written with wit, intelligence, and eminent readability, How to Lose a Battle pays dubious homage to these momentous and bloody blunders, including:

  • Cannae, 216 B.C.: the bumbling Romans lose 80,000 troops to Hannibal's forces.
  • The Second Crusade: an entire Christian army is slaughtered when it stops for a drink of water.
  • The Battle of Britain: Hitler's dreaded Luftwaffe blows it big-time.
  • Pearl Harbor: more than one warning of the impending attack is there, but nobody listens.
How to Lose a Battle includes more than thirty-five chapters worth of astonishing (and avoidable) disasters, both infamous and obscure -- a treasure trove of trivia, history, and jaw-dropping facts about the most costly military missteps ever taken.

(Source: Harper)

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