Scapegoats: Thirteen Victims of Military Injustice

Overview

“At all costs avoid blame.” Such is the creed of dictators and politicians, tycoons and company chairmen, media celebrities, and spin doctors the world over. But what about men at war, where the penalties for errors of judgment can be devastating? History is full of tales of those who have been wrongly castigated in the rush to find a culprit; only later, sometimes much later, when the real truth comes out, is the scapegoat exonerated. Exposed here are the real stories behind the myths that allow the reader to make a balanced judgment on ...

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Overview

“At all costs avoid blame.” Such is the creed of dictators and politicians, tycoons and company chairmen, media celebrities, and spin doctors the world over. But what about men at war, where the penalties for errors of judgment can be devastating? History is full of tales of those who have been wrongly castigated in the rush to find a culprit; only later, sometimes much later, when the real truth comes out, is the scapegoat exonerated. Exposed here are the real stories behind the myths that allow the reader to make a balanced judgment on history’s fairness to the individual, including those of:

Captain Alfred Dreyfus, exiled and imprisoned on charges of treason in 1895
Lieutenant General James Longstreet, blamed for the failure of Pickett’s Charge in 1863
Major General Jackie Smyth, removed from the Army after ordering the destruction of the Sittang Bridge in 1942
Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, let down by the United Nations over the Rwanda massacres of 1994

This superbly researched book by a former professional soldier uncovers what might be termed the most disgraceful miscarriages of military justice.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/30/2013
Scott, a former commander of the British Army in Scotland, does an excellent job of conveying the details of a variety of military campaigns, spanning several centuries and continents, in an accessible way, in his accounts of men unjustly blamed, and punished, by their country’s military. With the exception of Alfred Dreyfus, the victims selected will mostly be unfamiliar to a general audience, making it all the more important that the salient facts of, for example, the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 (where CPT Jahleel Brenton Carey was charged with “misbehavior before the enemy”), are concisely recounted. Scott selects examples from the American Civil War (Confederate general James Longstreet), WWII (Charles B. McVay III, commander of the doomed U.S.S. Indianapolis), and the Yom Kippur War (Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff David Elazar), among others, spanning the sad history of military injustice from 1754 to 1994, ending with the genocide in Rwanda. Each chapter makes the case that the punishments imposed, which included death sentences, were excessive, and the product of a desire by those in power to cast blame on an individual, rather than on system failures. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

“Scott, a former commander of the British Army in Scotland, does an excellent job of conveying the details of a variety of military campaigns, spanning several centuries and continents, in an accessible way, in his accounts of men unjustly blamed, and punished, by their country’s military.” —Publishers Weekly
Library Journal
12/01/2013
A former commander of the British army in Scotland, Scott tells the stories of 13 men blamed for military losses, such as Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, a Rwandan who was denied by the United Nations the troops he needed to prevent a massacre, and asks the reader to reconsider and assess their blameworthiness. History is peppered with those accused, rightly or wrongly, for lost battles, soured relationships, and bad calls, but closer examination usually reveals, if not new information, at least a differing perspective. Looking as far back as 1754 and as recently as 1994, Scott clearly explains the history, politics, and personalities involved. He largely leaves it to the reader to decide if the chapter's subjects were justifiably blamed, though the title of the book lets the reader know that the author believes that those profiled have been unfairly burdened. Each chapter can be read as a stand-alone and provides a fascinating snapshot of a moment in history. Readers may learn new things about well-trod historical ground, or they may be surprised to learn about conflicts they never studied in school. VERDICT This title is best for avid readers of military history, but general history buffs will likely find at least a chapter or two to interest them.—Kate Sheehan, Waterbury, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781908739681
  • Publisher: Elliott & Thompson
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Scott was commissioned into the Scots Guards in 1960. After worldwide regimental service, he led the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in the Falklands War and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He was subsequently a brigade commander in Northern Ireland and, as a major general, commanded the army in Scotland and was appointed governor of Edinburgh Castle in 1993. On leaving the army, he was selected to be the first complaints commissioner to the Bar Council dealing with complaints against barristers. His first book was In Love and War: The Lives of General Sir Harry and Lady Smith, cowritten with David Rooney. He lives in England.

Magnus Linklater is a British journalist, writer, and former newspaper editor. Linklater was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to the arts and media in Scotland. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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