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How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History (previously titled The Hinge Factor)
How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History - previously titled The Hinge Factor
Author: Erik Durschmied
From Publishers Weekly: — What decides victory in battle? Superiority--in numbers, leadership, strategy or fighting ability--is certainly a factor. Military historian and war correspondent Durschmied, who lives in France, reminds us that chance--known in military terms as the Hinge Factor--can also play a decisive role. In this fast-paced study, ...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781567317381
ISBN-10: 1567317383
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 394
Rating:
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
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3 stars, based on 4 ratings
Publisher: MJF Books
Book Type: Hardcover
Members Wishing: 0
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reviewed How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History (previously titled The Hinge Factor) on + 32 more book reviews
I am admittedly a bit of a history nut. I have enjoyed Barbara Tuchman's books, for example. I tell you this just for background.
While I liked the book "How Chance and Stupidity have Changed History" I am not sure what kind of audience would like it most, or what different readers may get out of it. I am a bit concerned that some will come away thinking that history has been totally random, and that would be a mistake.
The authors pick such a wide range of historical events, from the fall of Troy to an item from the Gulf War, and this is one of the weaknesses of the book. Historians are still debating what really happened in Troy, with some pointing to a reported earthquake as the cause of a crack in the walls of the city. So I think the author should have left that one out.
He is on firmer ground when discussing episodes of Agincourt or WWI, for example. Did you know that the personal animosity between two Russian generals would cause them to lose a battle despite a huge superiority in numbers? (650,000 Russians to 135,000 Germans) Or that rain and a poor choice of battleground would turn the tide at Agincourt in Henry's favor?
It's a book well worth reading for another take on key events in Western history.
PS -- If you like naval history, you might especially enjoy the chapter on the chase to sink the Bismarck. PPS -- The History Channel had a fascinating episode on the British effort to sink its twin, the Tirpitz.


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