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The Hinges of Battle Hardcover – 7 Feb 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (7 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340819774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340819777
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 4.5 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,041,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'The Hinges of Battle is more or less a sequel to Durschmied's previous book and is just as readable. The Hinges of Battle should have a wide readership' (Nicholas Fearn, Independent on Sunday 20020224)

'An entertaining and fascinating read' (Lancashire Evening Post 20020209)

'A collection of cracking adventure stories told with infectious enthusiasm, in a book that allows the reader to virtually participate in momentous history-changing events' (Waterstone's Books Quarterly 20020209)

'His tales of mayhem and confusion can be gripping, informative and genuinely idea-provoking. He reveals again and again, the casual impact of happenstance.' (Independent 20020209)

'This entertaining book considers the errors and incidents that have shaped the world as we know it rather than as we planned it might be.' (The Times 20020209)

'Gripping, riveting. Fascinating. Even when you're sure you know what happened and whodunit, Erik Durschmeid provides another twist.' (Scotsman 20020209)

'Erik Durschmeid's revelations are wholly captivating.' (Manchester Evening News 20020209)

Book Description

A fascinating look at the turning points of famous conflicts - the moment when a minor incident decides the outcome of a battle (called the hinge of battle). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sean Woodard on 21 April 2004
Format: Hardcover
'The Hinges of Battle' contains a series of short stories about various military forays or rather in some cases, blunders. The main focus being the small things that can change a battle for the better or worse. Each story is kept short and sweet, not going into too much detail or too less but providing enough facts to keep you interested. Reading about the fall of Constantinople and the battle at Rorkes Drift were my favourite stories, and each one has prompted me to research the topics more. This is also worth buying to read of the stupidity of the generals, mentioned in the various stories. I could not believe how stupid some military commanders were throughout history, and in some instances I couldn't help but laugh aloud at what I had just read! Overall I really enjoyed this book, I would recommend it to anyone interested in military history or anyone who just wants a good read. Top Marks!
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Format: Hardcover
It has long been realised by military historians that battles are usually won by the side that makes the fewer mistakes, rather than by immense tactical skill. "Hinges of Battle" looks at the way eight conflicts from history have been decided by minor decisions, trivial incidents or freaks of fortunes. They range from the middle of the fifth century to the middle of the twentieth.

The subject matter is a bit suspicious. Basically, it looks like the author has a political agenda. If I were asked to choose eight history-altering battles that were decided by chance or incompetence, I certainly wouldn't have more than one or two of these. You could argue that the obvious candidates have already been done to death, so Mr Durschmied is doing us a favour here. Still, although "Custer's last stand" was of immense importance to it's participants, has it really altered history or the way we look at the world?

What all eight stories have in common is that they were defeats (morally if not physically) for what might be called "the reaction" - imperialists and colonialists. "Progressives" apparently cannot ever be stupid. Nonetheless this is a very well researched book indeed. The narrative is strong and combining it with dramatisations based on actual quotes really brings the stories to life. The purple prose is overdone occasionally but the tales are genuinely both enlightening and exciting.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Another Masterpiece by a True Master 25 Jan 2006
By G. Poirier - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who is interested in descriptions of various military encounters throughout the ages and written in a style that literally makes the pages flip over by themselves would need to look no further than this book - or, for that matter, any other book by this gifted author. The ten events recounted in this masterpiece are all described in such an engaging and exciting style that it becomes a question of willpower putting the book aside. The descriptions are always lively, detailed and, occasionally, tongue-in-cheek - thus making the reading so enjoyable. Readers who are not familiar with this author's works should allow themselves a real treat and read any one of his books - they will not be disappointed; those who are already familiar with them will know what to expect. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history and likes to see it come alive - to jump out of the pages on which it is written.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
unremarkable -- and of questionable accuracy 8 Dec 2002
By Smallchief - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book consists of superficial descriptions of ten different battles, wars, and leaders, including Attila, Napoleon, Custer's last stand, the Zulu war, the fall of Constantinople, etc. I enjoyed the description of the Zulu war, which seemed to me the best chapter in the book.

The author's questionable claims in his account of Custer's Last Stand made me wonder how accurate the rest of the book is. For example, he estimated that 10,000 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors were arrayed against Custer. That is a vast exaggeration. I would believe an Indian army of 2,000 -- maybe even 3,000 -- but 10,000? No. Not possible. Also, the author overestimates Indian casualties. He mentions "hundreds of dead and dying" Indians in one minor sub-battle of the engagement. No. Hollywood to the contrary, Indians had a well-developed sense of self-preservation and rarely pressed an attack in which they suffered heavy casualties. The evidence from Indian sources and on the battleground -- the most thoroughly studied of any in the world -- is that the Indians sustained only moderate casualties -- far fewer than the 250 dead of Custer.

There's too much good writing on war to bother reading this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Melodramatic and inaccurate 3 Jan 2007
By M. Morini - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The author should really be a fiction writer but instead attempts to make real history "exciting" through ridiculous exaggeration and hyperbole. It's unnecessary and distracting, and makes the reader doubt the accuracy of any of it. Reality is more thrilling than fiction (take Roy Adkins' highly accurate yet very readable and enthralling "Trafalgar" as an excellent example) and the author would do well to remember it. I don't think the book is well written in general either: there are some dubious language choices, some parts are confusing due to a lack of proper explanation, and the maps are poorly drawn.

The first few chapters held my interest but by the time I got to the Easter Rising I was sick of the melodrama and was starting to doubt everything the author claimed.

Having said all that I did learn a fair bit from each chapter. The fall of Constantinople and the Zulu/British battles in particular were quite interesting. If only the author had used his (seemingly quite extensive) research more sagely.

Incidentally, Amazon have the title of this book incorrect: it's "How Chance and Incompetence..." not "Change".
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, Exciting & Concise Read 6 Jan 2004
By Black Flag - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Erik Durschmied has written several excellent books, this is one of them (in spite of another reviewers' unease with the truth of Custer's last battle).
Like his other volumes, this one gives a war correspondents perspective on key elements during events in history.
A quick read, and well worth the brief time invested.
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