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Lions, Donkeys And Dinosaurs: Waste and Blundering in the Military Paperback – 5 Apr 2007

69 customer reviews

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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: 12.7 x 2.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By MJW on 31 Oct. 2008
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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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By researcher on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anthony R. Dixon on 21 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
In the 12 years I've worked in the defence industry, one thing has become clear to me; vast sums of money have been poured into black holes masquerading as defence projects. Whether it's Westland Apache helicopters costing 50% more than their US-made Longbow equivalents; dithering governments unable to decide between CATOBAR and STOVL aircraft carriers; Frigates unfit for purpose; Billion-pound Destroyers; spending billions trying in vain to stuff AWACs radar into a deficient 1950s airframe, down to an infantryman's rifle that can't empty its magazine without jamming.

The UK has the world's 3rd highest defence budget. Our forces should be among the most powerful and best armed on the planet. They should have all the equipment they need in spades. Yet here we are with an airforce that can barely put up 200 front-line aircraft, a Navy unable to provide its own air cover, and an army that can barely muster 200 tanks.

Lewis Page's book blows the lid on this scandal of epic proportions, and every incompetent politician, civil servant and overpaid contractor should be ashamed. Will anything ever change? I doubt it very much, as Page points out, there's too many vested interests. What's worse, just about every other area of government expenditure also suffers from similar waste, greed and incompetence.

British servicemen are the best trained in the world, and getting them the best equipment should be the MoD's priority. If that means buying American and letting BAE and their ilk go bust, then so be it. The UK defence industry should be there to support The UK armed forces, not the other way around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Bluffield on 5 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
An excellent expose of how the MOD and military operate in the UK and how civil servants waste our money on arms and equipment that frequently fail to do the job. We are familiar with the assault rifles that won't fire that could cost a soldier his life; the shoddy boots that fall apart; the flimsy body armour; the shortage of the right type of helicopters in the Afghanistan theatre - but Lewis Page exposes a whole lot more about how billions of pounds of tax payers' money has been squandered when far better, cheaper options are available.
It also explains the fierce rivalries between the three military services that exists that can only be to the detriment of our fighting forces.
The book also uncovers the hold that British Aerospace (BAe) has over civil servants and the way arms and equipment are procured and how much of the military equipment that the company has supplied has been overpriced and fallen dreadfully (perhaps dangerously)far short of the desired expectations.
This is a book every MP and government official should read because Lewis Page puts forward sensible arguments that could have saved lives and money.
I highly recommended this book to anyone interested in military matters, politics and corruption.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By P. O'Neill on 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...
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