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Lions, Donkeys And Dinosaurs: Waste and Blundering in the Military [Paperback]

Lewis Page
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
RRP: £11.05
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Book Description

5 April 2007
In this irreverent and provocative book, Lewis Page exposes the scandalous state of our armed forces: how British soldiers are sent off to war with some of the worst guns around, how the MOD keeps financing useless toys (at huge expense to taxpayers), and how decisions seem to be made with an eye, above all, for the interests of British Aerospace. He shows how politicians and the top brass are hopelessly entrenched in yesterday's wars and pouring their talents and energies into making sure that money is wasted right, left and centre.

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Lions, Donkeys And Dinosaurs: Waste and Blundering in the Military + Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099484420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099484424
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"He... writes with force and wit...Page's book deserves attention... Offers a guide to the armed forces and their problems which anybody who cares about them should read... Page does a splendid job of sharpening axes." (Max Hastings Sunday Telegraph)

"'Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs is a Fast Food Nation for the armed forces... It is very unlikely that anything this entertaining or important will be written on military matters this year. It deserves to be a bestseller, and perhaps it will be if red-faced civil servants are sent out to buy up every copy before the public can get their hands on it.'" (Independent)

"'Devastating... In my own recent book on modern follies I suggested that defence procurement policy was so corrupt...that only a satirist could do it justice. Page is that satirst.'" (Francis Wheen Daily Express)

"It's very unlikely that anything this entertaining or important will be written on military matters this year. It deserves to be a bestseller" (Independent on Sunday)

"Page writes with force and wit...I hope he soon gets the job he deserves, as a defence correspondent in the national media. The MoD and chiefs of staff might tremble in their boots about the consequences, but that is as it should be. Page does a splendid job" (Sir Max Hastings Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

A biting, controversial and hilarious polemic on the curious ways of the British armed forces by a brilliant young former Naval Officer. With a preface by Harold Evans (the legendary former editor of the Sunday Times) and a brand new afterword by the author, bringing the book right up to date.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By MJW
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've always been bemused by my government friends' complaining about the constant infighting between the 3 services (apparently there's a huge argument brewing right now between the RAF and the Navy, which has nothing to do with war and everything to do with the respective authority and budgets of the two forces). No longer.
This book does an excellent job of demonstrating that for all the attempts at bi-partisanship between Tories and Labour over the war, the political tensions within the forces are alive and well and never went away.
And, of course, he shows up massive incompetence within MoD and BAe, which won't be a surprise to anyone who has observed any government project up close.
The writing style is similar to that of Ben Goldacre, of "Bad Science" fame, and Lewis Page seems to have similar concerns about the competence of journalists to hold the government to account on defence expenditure.
Non-military buffs like me will definitely need to use the glossary - a lot.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our soldiers have been betrayed 9 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback
Me: Previously infantry.
First read this not long after it came out but have now felt I had to write a review because it deserves more than 4 stars. I can only assume that those who marked it down have an agenda or are incapable of critical thought.
Basically Page provides an overview of the kinds of equipment used by our Forces and comes to the conclusion that a great deal of what our Forces have is either unnecessary (now) or rubbish (in many cases). If there is good stuff, there's usually not much of it. For example, Page dismisses frigates and destroyers as pointless because hunting submarines (frigate work) is better performed by aircraft or other submarines, while destroying aircraft (destroyer work) is better done by other aircraft because of the threat of anti-ship missiles...only 1 has to get through any screen a destroyer can put up. Therefore a future Navy would consist of either submarines or ships carrying planes...for surface-vessel officers this is not sexy work...no more sleek, dashing surface ships??! Unthinkable! Of course, some surface ships are needed but (to my mind) they would be Patrol ships that are simple, can carry a couple of helicopters and have provision for some troops...perfect for light humanitarian/rescue/evacuation tasks. Needless to say the RN is still busy buying frigates and destroyers. To escort our aircraft carriers perhaps...oh sorry, we don't have any.
Page points out, to this reader's shock, just how over-officered our Forces are. But the Forces are a public organisation and anyone who works in a public organisation today just how 'over-managered' they are (I work in the emergency services now...
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 'Must Read' book 24 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback
I was aware of several of our defence procurement shambles over the years, but this book, written in plain & simple language, sets them in the context of unbelievable MOD incompetence, inter-service rivalry, political skulduggery, and a persistent and enduring determination to base all defence decisions on military strategy that is always 3 decades out of date.

I've told several people about this book and have considered buying a copy for my MP, but they and I have found there is a shortage. Could do with a reprint and/or update.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and well written 18 May 2006
Format:Paperback
To most of us defence expenditure is not the most exiting subject. Page gets around this by writing in an exiting, informative and often humorous manner. I have no reservations about recommending this book to anyone. Indeed, it is an essential read for anyone who worries how their tax is being spent. Thirty billion pounds a year is an awful lot of cash to be spending on rubbish kit.

After some checks - it seems factually correct to me. Indeed, I can't find the inconsistancies profered by his detractors and wonder about their motivations.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coherent and very entertaining 3 Jan 2007
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed this. Three of the reasons why:

1) The writing style, laced with black humour, is easy to follow - it is indeed a page turner, which is perhaps surprising given the subject matter.

2) It serves as a very good 'noddy's outing' to the roles and utility of different parts of the forces and the equipment they use (I now know why a Lt General is senior to a Maj General, what a frigate is for etc).

3) Although unashamedly polemical, most of the arguments presented by the author are consistent and coherent. Rather than spending the whole book detailing the flaws in different weapons systems, the author credibly challenges the strategic rationale underpinning much of our procurement policy and capability as a whole. For example why do we wish to have and continue to develop, massive anti-submarine warfare capability in the post cold war era?

Anyone interested in current or military affairs should read this.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for every British Citizen 26 Mar 2008
Format:Paperback
Thoughtful but entertaining writing style bringing to life what would otherwise be a difficult subject. The fact is that defence of the realm is the single most important point of a government and as this book makes clear our political leaders and policy makers have used it as a very large job creation scheme, and even on these terms they have not been very successful.

Both his theories and background information carry a great deal credibility and as a consequence we citizens of the UK should be hounding our politicians to sort out the mess that is British defence procurement. The complicity of senior armed forces officers and civil servants in the ongoing catastrophe just makes it worse and more vital that we tackle our leaders over this. The very sad truth of this book is that we could have armed forces that were the envy of the world and a scourge to our enemies with the £32bn that we spend every year. Due to massive incompetence and blinkered empire building we are far from it, and our real fighting soldiers, sailors and airmen bear the brunt of this failure.

Lewis Page has done a great service to our country, perhaps more than he did when in uniform, if by this excellent book he initiates change at the MOD and in our government.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Books
Great book, very good service and cheap. Looks new!!! Thank you
Published 3 months ago by Bob Thornthwaite
5.0 out of 5 stars Bang goes the cbe
Horribly entertaining. Fascinating and the awesome sound of ringing oh so true. There was some real s*** out there all paid for by you and I. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Military Blunders
This is a well written and informative book. The author has put into words what every one should be told and not glossed over by the government. Well done give that man a medal
Published 7 months ago by Captain Darling
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Great
If stars were important, I could have been talked into five. It is a good book - well written and factually accurate. It's a brave subject matter, too. Mr. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dinosaur Abroad
4.0 out of 5 stars A polemic against stupidity
A book which I loved and hated in equal measure but one which is vital to understand how procurement works (or rather doesn't). Read more
Published 16 months ago by ManchesterMonkey
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT
top notch book, which is bang on target, just wish a lot more people would read it.
Especially our Primeminister
Published 19 months ago by PAUL CUNNINGHAM
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I needed
The book was recommended to me by a student so I needed a copy to speed read through. The one I received was exactly what I wanted.
Published 20 months ago by D J Ridley
5.0 out of 5 stars oliver cromwell had the right idea
A good read, and lets you see nomarks are still making jobs for the boys a bit like most companys these days
Published 21 months ago by R.J.Barker
5.0 out of 5 stars Defence waste exposed
If you have ever wondered why, despite a large defence budget, British soldiers don't have the right sort of boots, here's your answer. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Senior Citizen
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Insights
Lewis's book is a wealth of insights to our proclivity to tribalism and self interest. It raises far more questions than it answers. Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2012 by Adrian Clark
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