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The Green Hell: The Chaco War: A Concise History of the Chaco War Between Bolivia and Paraguay, 1932-35 (Spellmount Military Studies) [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Adrian J. English
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Spellmount Publishers Ltd; 1st Edition edition (1 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862274452
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862274457
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.8 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,142,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Adrian J. English was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1939 and qualified as architect in 1964. Whilst continuing to work as an architect he developed a parallel career as a writer and journalist on defence and military history from the early 1970s onwards being the author of many magazine articles on these subjects. He was also a major contributor to many reference books and part-works. With a primary interest in Latin America and particularly its history and military affairs, he has visited most countries in the region to which he continues to travel frequently. In addition to the present work he is the author of ARMED FORCES OF LATIN AMERICA (Jane's, London 1984/New York 1985); REGIONAL DEFENCE PROFILE: LATIN AMERICA (Jane's, London 1988); Jane's Special Report SOUTH AMERICAN DEFENCE MARKETS (2000); IRISH ARMY ORBATS (Tiger Lilly Publications.Takoma Park, Maryland, USA, 2004) and of THE GREEN HELL - A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE CHACO WAR BETWEEN BOLIVIA and Paraguay 1932-35. He is also co-author, with Anthony J. Watts, of BATTLE FOR THE FALKLANDS; NAVAL FORCES (Osprey, London 1982) and Editor of the first Editions of Jane's Sentinel CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN (1995) and Jane's Sentinel SOUTH AMERICA (1996)

Product Description

About the Author

Andrew Hilton is a Chartered Surveyor who travels extensively, especially within Africa, in connection with his work with international economic development programmes. He is a graduate of Birkbeck College, London, in Field Archaeology, and has a keen interest in military and oral history. He has been researching this remarkable story for the past decade.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and well researched 26 Dec 2007
The war fought by Bolivia and Paraguay for the Gran Chaco between 1932 and 1935 is little known in North America and unknown in Europe.

It was a conflict fought with great savagery in, and for, a wasteland and cost 88,000 lives, indeed 25% of the victorious Paraguayan army were killed! Yet it has lessons for the 21st Century in the greater importance of leadership than reliance upon technology and it greatly influenced social development in Bolivia which is currently one of Venezuela's closest friends making a new account long overdue.

Europe's foremost expert on Latin America's armed forces, Adrian J. English, has taken up the task to produce an account worthy of the combatants although he admits it was one of the most futile wars in history. Mr English, who met many of the combatants and clearly benefits from their knowledge, deftly explores the geographic and political background to the conflict then leads the reader through the operations while sketching out the diplomatic and political background.

Personal accounts, which tend to dominate so many modern military histories, are avoided and perhaps there might have been a little more on the background and personality of some of the key characters. Yet this is the only criticism and the chapter are well written, each with little headings describing the contents which younger readers might regard as old-fashioned but provide a guide through the complexities as fortune swung first one way and then the other.

Mr English clearly shows how, and why, victory went to Paraguay which was poorer but whose society was more cohesive.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The author graciously cites the (very few) other English language accounts of this obscure war, seeking to distinguish his work by making it much more of a military history than a political one. In this he succeeds, giving a reasonably clear account of the campaign. I say only 'reasonably' because for me there are two flaws which rather spoil this very worthy book.

Before explaining those however, let me first praise the scholarship and the commitment that writing this history has clearly required. The detail will be of tremendous value to those who seek to 'wargame' campaigns; this book does all the hard work for you. Equally, the narrative is concise. If pictures, Orders of Battle and appendices are cut out, this is a very short book. Nevertheless, it breezily delivers a strong sense of the causes, course and aftermath of this small, obscure little war. But now to the flaws.

First, and said so many times of military histories, is the paucity of maps. In this instance, the omission is more acute than most, because the battles are so small (and hence tactical nuance is important), and few, if any readers will have any sense of the geography without recourse to a big atlas.

The second is that whilst the author's assiduous detailing of the Orders of Battle is exemplary (how many other books would benefit from a dose of this), his level of detail breaks up the narrative. It goes as far as to reduce understanding as opposed to enhancing it.

Nevertheless, this is likely to be the only military history of the Chaco War that I ever buy, and is a very decent candidate for anyone else looking to fill that particular gap in their library.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity 27 Feb 2010
By Mulwharchar TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I suppose we should be grateful that anyone has even bothered to write an English account of the 1932-5 Chaco War, as it has never attracted much interest in Europe, even at the time. However there's little sense in 'The Green Hell' of what was at stake in this bitter, costly war; most accounts of the action are taken up with interminable lists of the units involved, and the poor Paraguayan and Bolivian peasants who made up the cannon fodder don't even rate walk-on parts. The nearly 90,000 men who died in what has been described as one of the most futile wars in history deserve a better memorial than this turgid book.

2011 update: Osprey have released The Chaco War 193235 (Men-at-arms) a far more readable book, and with better illustrations: it's shorter but a considerable step up on 'The Green Hell'.
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