How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History

Book Title How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History
Author Name Erik Durschmied
Publishing house Arcade Publishing
Country – city USA
Date of issue 2016
Number of pages 420

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This post is also available in: ar العربية (Arabic)


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, Durschmied (Don’t Shoot the Yanqui, etc.) analyzes battles both famous and obscure, showing how chance has enabled inferior armies to defeat superior opponents, thus changing the course of history.

Serious readers will approach some chapters with tongue firmly in cheek. Few might accept, for example, that a slap on the face set in motion events that brought on the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia or that a parcel containing three cigars extended the American Civil War for four years. Other episodes are more plausible.

Durschmied makes a good case that a swarm of angry bees decided the outcome of a key battle between British and German forces in German East Africa in 1914. Similarly, he shows how weather, which has bedeviled field commanders throughout the ages, played a decisive role in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The author concludes each chapter with a series of provocative questions designed to draw armchair strategists into a spirited game of What-if? More entertaining than scholarly, this will nevertheless please military buffs. Maps. (Mar).

Erik Durschmied was born in Vienna in 1930 and emigrated to Canada after World War II. A television war correspondent for the BBC and CBS, he has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Belfast, Beirut, Chile, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, and Vietnam, and won numerous awards for his work. He lives in Paris and Provence with his family.


This post is also available in: ar العربية (Arabic)

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