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The Guns of August
Barbara W. Tuchman, Robert K. Massie

Military Blunders: The How and Why of Military Failure

Military Blunders the How and Why of Military Failure - Saul David Military Blunders: The How and Why of Military Failure is a 3 Star review of incompetence in military action from Roman times to the first Gulf War. I appreciate his inclusion of maps for some of the battles but Mr. David could have included more detail, especially for those battles and actions that are not commonly known. He breaks the reasons for failure into 5 categories:

Unfit to Command – 6 examples of cronyism or The Peter Principle, wrong man for the job: First Afghan War and the British retreat from Kabul; The Charge of the Light Brigade; McClellan at Antietam; Battle of Spion Kop; Suvla Bay (Gallipoli); Fall of Singapore in WWII.

Planning for Trouble – 6 examples of PPP…piss poor planning: The Jameson Raid (Boer War); Colenso (2nd Boer War); 1st Day on the Somme; Dieppe Raid; Arnhem (Market-Garden); Bravo Two Zero (1st Gulf War)

Meddling Ministers—6 examples of ego or politics overruling common sense: Bannockburn; Sedan (Franco-Prussian War); St Valery (just after Dunkirk); North Africa (before Rommel appears); Stalingrad; Goose Green (Falklands)

Misplaced Confidence—6 examples of “we can kick their ass…oops no we can’t”: Teutoburger Wald (Romans); The 2nd Crusade; Custer’s Last Stand; Isandhlwana (Zulus); Yalu River, Korea; Dien Bien Phu

Failure to Perform—6 examples of both officer and soldier poor performance: Crecy; Caporetto; March 1918 German attack; Annual (Morocco); Crete (WWII); Kasserine Pass.

My favorite passage in the book occurs when the Italians are getting their butts kicked by the British and Indian troops in North Africa in early WWII. Anthony Eden modifies Churchill’s quote to: “Never has so much been surrendered by so many to so few!” Not much here for the serious student of military history except it may point out some obscure or lesser known battles that are worthy of study. I know I am going to look into the Boer Wars based on this book.