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Summary

This compendium fleshes out the century's best known military mishaps. In a series of short chapters, Coffey shows how even relatively small misjudgments have become historical turning points, such as how a driver's poor knowledge of Sarajevo's streets in 1914 helped lead to World War I. He reminds us of some of the bigger blunders, including detailing how the Treaty of Versailles laid the groundwork for the Second World War. More recent events receive coverage, too. Here is the Bay of Pigs and Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Also underscored are the unexpected ways things go wrong, either from the design of a weapon, friendly fire, or complacency.

This book is the official companion volume to the riveting History Channel 26-part documentary series.

©1999 A&E Television Networks & Disney Enterprises, Inc. (P)2000 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Like the best general history volumes, Coffey's book, in clean, muscular prose, expertly informs as it artfully entertains." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Blunders

Interesting book, though 20 yrs old. Summaries different points in history of 20th century
Narrator has a good voice but mispronounces every german word that is used. Quite irritating since much is concerning mideuropean themes.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good but not great

I was quite excited when I discovered this book whilst browsing the titles. But alas it didn't really live up to my expectations. Although being mindful of the scope of the book, it's still very light weight.

I would have expected a little more analysis as to psyche of the participants, is there a common factor with the participants involved with the events described. Even the nature of the information they acted on and whether perhaps they seen only what they wanted to see, and finally the reasons for a particular 'type' of interpretation.

Instead I got a rather brief collection of story's. Very interesting, and well narrated for that but with errors and whole world changing events not included, its for the non history buff. (In truth it didn't claim to be any thing else!) In short, its great light listening in the car, but just wasn't involved enough to engage me.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 31-03-06

Not For The History Buff

The book itself is plagued by numerous errors. Not tiny details, but large, easily verified points of fact that a decent pass through a qualified proof reader should have caught. Even viewed as light fare, it fails because of these errors.

Add to that the voice talent working without a pronunciation guide and some very labored prose (Must we use the word "blunder" constantly? I know it is in the title, but still.) and you end up with volume you are better off skipping.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Joseph
  • 05-02-05

For all it?s shortcomings, a good provoking book

I was quite excited when I discovered this book whilst browsing the titles. But alas it didn't really live up to my expectations. Although being mindful of the scope of the book, it's still very light weight. I would have expected a little more analysis as to psyche of the participants, is there a common factor with the participants involved with the events described. Even the nature of the information they acted on and whether perhaps they seen only what they wanted to see, and finally the reasons for a particular 'type' of interpretation.

Instead I got a rather brief collection of story's. Very interesting, and well narrated for that but its for the non history buff. (In truth it didn't claim to be any thing else!) In short, its great light listening, but just wasn't involved enough to engage me.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Steven
  • 22-06-05

a bad letdown

There have been a number of books about military mistakes, some good some bad. This falls into the latter category. A book called "days of infamy" that doesn't even cover the mistakes of Pearl Harbor (the original "day of infamy"? That talks of Versailles, but fails to detail the blunder of Appeasement (which undermined the treaty)?
That fails to record the Battle of France, together with "Sitzkrieg"
as great errors? That goes into detail about Hitler's declaration of war against the US as a major error (when it is clear that the US would have found a pretext (after Pearl Harbor to soon declare war on Germany) while missing the turning point of WW2, the invasion of Russia, underestimating the Russian will to resist and the Russian winter? These are all signs of poor understanding. Add to this numerous factual errors (eg Bismark was sunk in the Atlantic , not in
a fjord, and the Munich agreement was prior to the occupation of the Sudetenland) and you have (especially in the case of WW2) a poor result. Add also things that cannot be reasonably described as Military Blunders (eg the assassination of Franz Ferdinand) and an exagerrated breathless writing style (heavy use of phrases like
"little did they know they were sailing to their doom") and it spells literary disaster. A further point, names are mispronounced eg
the ship Graf Spee is pronounced Spay rather than rhyming with bee
and French city names are also mispronounced.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful