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How to Lose a Battle: Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders
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How to Lose a Battle: Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders

3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  152 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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 l

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Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 3rd 2006 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published June 22nd 2006)
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James
A worthwhile read. The author (actually the editor and author of some, but not all, of the content) has done a good job of describing a dismal series of, as the subtitle says, foolish plans and great military blunders. He omitted some I'd have covered, but over the millennia there have just been so many - to even come close to analyzing them all would take an encyclopedia instead of one book. I also appreciated the fact that the authors debunked a number of myths about some of these events. The ...more
Bruno Di Giandomenico
Honestly a modest book, slightly interesting because there is a list of famous battles which are dealt with in a very short way, just no more than 20 ebook pages at most. Every battle from remote antiquity to the more modern battle of the six days war (indeed more a war than a battle).
The author is slightly presuming to know a lot about how a battle should be conducete and where the faults were, but foreknowledge is a difficult thing to manage.expecially in hindsight.
The book honestly does not a
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Jeanne
My expectations of this book were neither high nor low, but in the end I expected it to be a rather quick and amusing read. I got what I wanted in some of the battle descriptions but I was left feeling like some battles deserved more insight.

I was not surprised to find that most of these battles were western-centric though I would have liked to know the criteria for choosing a battle to write about. I mean could the Battle of Marathon not also be included?

Some battle descriptions seemed to drag
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Ian Kemp
Lightweight but entertaining book - the sheer enjoyment of being able to use 20-20 hindsight to loftily criticise major historical figures is what makes it worth the read.

Most of the contributions are written by Fawcett and generally pretty objective, though some of the chapters by other authors are of variable quality, especially the one on the 6-day war which falls woefully short of being an objective analysis.

The book is heavily US-oriented in that it includes some very minor US events while
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Paul
While an entertaining read, this book should be seen as no more than an introduction to some of history's worst military blunders. As a collection of short pieces by several different authors, each battle gets its own chapter, and there are a lot of them; 37 different battles and military engagements are tackled in just 316 pages. As with any collection by different writers, the quality of each chapter varies; some chapters give an excellent analysis and description of the situation, the persona ...more
TheIron Paw
With the exception of the chapters on the U.S. civil war by William Forstchen, all but one of the remaining chapters provide a very simplistic analysis and will not likely appeal to those with any background in military history or tactics. The one exception is the chapter on the Six Day War which provides absolutely no analysis of the war - it is simply a propaganda piece extolling Israel's struggles against the Arabs. Overall: too simplistic except for chapters by Forstchen on the Civil War.
Jwduke
The biook is easy to pick up and read because the chapters are not inter connected 9except for two on Gettysburg) the Authors present a brief case study of a chosen battle in histroy, gone wrong, and after outlining the general information, course of action, and result, attempt to answer why the batttle went wrong. Some chapters/case studys are 3 pages. Some are 5. Most are less than ten. Therefore the book is a great "primer" and nice to see some battles getting attention that are not so widely ...more
Chris
This book was a good change of pace for what I'd been getting engrossed in and therefore a nice light bedtime read. I found it kind of hilarious when it got to the American Civil War, particularly Gettysburg. That was when it became glaringly clear the authors were not only Americans but huge enthusiasts of that particular war. Two chapters for Gettysburg was a bit much, but hilarious none the less to see the passion that went into writing them.
Tim
Fawcett is an accomplished military writer. He distills the various battles down to their basic components, while still capturing the chaos and uncertainty that charactierizes warfare.

This book made me realize that many pivotal points in history were decided by unforseen details. A general choosing to march his troops too far; a misplaced map; an overconfident officer -- these are the factors that often shape our history.
Daestwen
Some of the essays are really interesting, but there are a few that really don't fit (um, the exodus? honestly?) and made my attention lag. Also it's a shame that the book is so Western/American centric. Though obviously lots of westeners are shown in a bad light, it would have been neat to see some ancient chinese or japanese battles in there too, not just romans and greeks and then onto the british and americans.
William Mountan
OK, but very much a Reader's Digest quality and format.
Danya
A book has to be pretty bad for me to not finish it, but I just couldn't. I only perservered as long as I did (about 3/4 through), because I was travelling and didn't have anything else. The concept is interesting, but is was soooo badly written - I think by a group of amateur history buffs... If you like this idea of military mistakes, The Hinge Factor is a much better read.
David Knickmeyer
Pretty good read, especially if you want a book to read in short bursts (like while I'm waiting for the plane to take off so I can fire up my electronic devices). Most of the articles are just overviews (and some might have been a bit of a reach) but I have a few ideas on subjects I might want to dig into a little more.
Stephanie
Mar 13, 2007 Stephanie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history enthusiasts
There is much more potential in this book than is ultimately realized. Occasionally amusing, this reads more as a history text and lacks the excitement promised in the title. However, insightful and exhaustive analyses of some of the more (in)famous fiascos of modern history keep it afloat and enjoyable.
Dacarter1
I found this book VERY entertaining, especially the parts about the Civil War. Though this book can be very dreary to some, as it has a play-by-play tactical analysis of the battles, I found it interesting to read and discover how "stupid" some commanders have been in history
Zahid Anwar
at the best a waste of time. only american battles carry some details or the only details. however does increase to the knowledge of wars. just european or american wars. no mention of eastern wars.
Matt Austin
Just keep in mind that the author falls into notable lapses of hindsight bias throughout the book.
Allan lucas
funny, it was how the great war heros make a stupid mistake
Sarah
This was really enjoyable light reading :)
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Bill Fawcett has been a professor, teacher, corporate executive, and college dean. His entire life has been spent in the creative fields and managing other creative individuals. He is one of the founders of Mayfair Games, a board and role-play gaming company. As an author, Fawcett has written or coauthored over a dozen books and dozens of articles and short stories. As a book packager, a person wh ...more
More about Bill Fawcett...
Old Guard: Bolos Anthology 5 (Bolos, #5) 100 Mistakes that Changed History: Backfires and Blunders That Collapsed Empires, Crashed Economies, and Altered th e Course of Our World Cats in Space and Other Places You Did What?: Mad Plans and Great Historical Disasters Nebula Awards Showcase 2010

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