Tariq Mahmood's Reviews > The Hinge Factor: How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History

The Hinge Factor by Erik Durschmied
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's review
Jun 13, 2012

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bookshelves: philosophy
Read from June 11 to 13, 2012

This book should have been named something apart from the 'Hinge factor' as it looks into the events of which went wrong for the losers of the many battles fought over the ages. Instead, the author has chosen to present his evidence as a collection of alternate 'what-if' scenarios. The issue is that any 'What-if' is sort of difficult to predict due to the nature of the unknown and I think the author acknowledges this fact by choosing not to detail any alternative theories. That's probably a very wise decision because only when certain authors start to theorise what-if's that strange judgements and conspiracy theories tend to emerge. These pseudo prophets are dangerous individuals who seem to relish in writing their own versions of their korans. Who wouldn't as the allure is so powerful. So for me the details of the battles listed give credence to the ever present chance or luck factor prevalent in every battle, every decision, every moment in our lives. Makes very interesting reading of a number of decisive battles and wars over the years, making it abundantly clear as to why such histories need to be scientifically researched as they can yield important corrective measures for all future battles to come, not barring the luck factor though. Therefore, for me this book should have been named the 'luck factor' but I guess that would have made it a very hard sell for the super confident Western audience who give little credence to luck in their very successful lives. Can't really blame this behaviour as well though....

I found it a fascinating fact that most wars in Europe were fought between the kinfolk, brother against brother or cousin against cousin, much in the same way as most bitter disputes still incur between family members. Just take a look around any family or observe the popularity of any TV soap of today.

One of the best encounters was the Boer war. Where the British gunners followed logic, their opponents used their instincts.

For me, the author fails to complete his argument. He starts off with the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, almost analysing some of the factors behind the tremendous event but abandons it completely during the whole narration till picking it up right in the end again. Yes, I thought, maybe he will give some details of this biggest crime the West has chosen to ignore over the years, but to my utter dismay the author failed to detail any circumstances here again. I have a feeling maybe the Publisher or Editor may have something to do with curtailing this section for the consumption of a very Western readers. Serves us right for not reading enough though. If there are enough readers buying books in the Islamic world than it will force the literal community to produce books to appease their new customers surly?
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