Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.
With reviews of books that cover these topics
Great Military Blunders
Geoffrey Regan Carlton Books, 2017
This is a new edition of a volume first published in 1991, which has since been reprinted many times. I am not surprised – it is very enlightening. Regan was a history master at Charterhouse, and one would have been very lucky, I judge, to have been in one of his classes. The author appears to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject, and the book ranges from Byzantine times to the Falklands conflict. It serves as a valuable antidote to the more typical genre of (military) history books which tend to focus on notable victories. GMB shines a welcome spotlight on gross errors in the chain of command, from political masters downwards.
To a British reader, the high proportion of blunders from British commanders will be a matter of some sensitivity. But fear not, the French are very well represented too – most notably in WW1, when their generals were at least a match for French and Haig in obduracy and ineptitude. The Italians make a good showing as well: Regan underlines their hesitancy, cowardice and ignorance in the Western Desert in WW2.
The small format size, and series of descriptions of each blundering battle, almost make this a shoe-in for that bookshelf in the smallest room. However the episodes are probably just a little too long, unless the reader is suffering from an unfortunate medical complaint. Regan has an authoritative but dry style which is a pleasure to read. Highly recommended.
There is an accompanying volume, by the same author, Great Naval Blunders, which falls outside the remit of this website. Suffice to say that, at 270 pages, I am surprised it is not longer!