How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders

How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders

4.5 6
by Bill Fawcett
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

From the Crusades to the modern age of chemical warfare and smart bombs, history is littered with truly disastrous military campaigns. How to Lose a War chronicles some of the most remarkable strategic catastrophes and doomed military adventures of overreaching invaders and clueless defenders—whether the failure was a result of poor planning,

Overview

From the Crusades to the modern age of chemical warfare and smart bombs, history is littered with truly disastrous military campaigns. How to Lose a War chronicles some of the most remarkable strategic catastrophes and doomed military adventures of overreaching invaders and clueless defenders—whether the failure was a result of poor planning, miscalculations, monumental ego, or failed intelligence . . . or just a really stupid idea to begin with.

  • Alexander invades India—and ends up in deep vindaloo.
  • Sacre bleu! The French are humiliated by Prussia in 1870.
  • spain's "invincible navy" breaks up off the coast of britain while attempting an invasion.
  • the mau mau rebellion against the british in kenya shows us how not to run an insurgency.
  • Chiang Kai-Shek's pathetic army fails to keep Mao's Communists from grabbing China.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have sensitized Americans to the nuances of defeat in war. In this anthology, Fawcett, who rivals Jim Dunnigan as a general-audience military analyst, brings together 11 first-rate writers on military history to offer two dozen case studies of wars that should have been won-but were not. The conflicts range from the Peloponnesian Wars to the first Gulf war. The contributors range from established authors like Roland Green and Bill Forstchen to first-rate newcomers like Paul Thomsen. Their essays incorporate a combination of perceptive analysis and a light touch that earns the book a classification as history/humor without lapsing into the unsubtle mockery frequently informing writing on defeat. They understand that nobody sets out to lose-but the same impulses generating war can prefigure defeat. This can involve the arrogance of Napoleon in 1812 or the thirst for glory that dominated Pyrrhus of Epirus in the third century B.C. The common threads are underestimating the enemy and "being so taken with yourself and your army that you fail to learn from the mistakes others have made before you." A chapter on Iraq will be correspondingly welcome in a second edition. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061358449
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/11/2009
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
1,184,215
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

How to Lose a War
More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders

Chapter One

Modern Mistakes

In this book we look not at the brilliant strategies of history's greatest generals and leaders, but at the failures of those who lost wars they should have won, or at least made it a fight. While any book whose subject is war deals with death and ruin in the most literal way and the results are often desperately hard on the citizens who are the real losers, there is an inescapable feeling of superiority as you look on what are, in 20/20 hindsight, obvious mistakes. It asks and then attempts to answer the question of why leaders who felt confident enough to start a war ended up losing it or why a side that should have won easily ended up suffering defeat. There are many more examples than could be included, Darius losing to the king of relatively tiny and poor Macedonia and ninety thousand Poles being thrashed by thirty thousand Mongols come to mind. Most are here because they are such prime examples of losing. A few wars have been included simply because the unlikely loss had a major effect. Many books concentrate on what went right or the brilliant moves of the winning leaders. This one looks at what went wrong.

We begin with a look at wars lost in modern times, examining with a critical eye the reasons for major defeats in the last sixty years. Now you might think that this means, if the last century's leaders learned from history, we should see mistakes that are different from those made in the past. Really, they should be different, not the same old errors....

How to Lose a War
More Foolish Plans and Great MilitaryBlunders
. Copyright © by Bill Fawcett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Bill Fawcett is the author and editor of more than a dozen books, including You Did What?, It Seemed Like a Good Idea . . . , How to Lose a Battle, and You Said What? He lives in Illinois.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

How to Lose a War: More Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago