1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic idea - perhaps too far ahead of its time.,
This review is from: Yours to Reason Why: Decision in Battle (Hardcover)
This book contains a description of ten battles or campaigns from different times in history, the earliest being the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the latest Anzio in World War 2. There is breadth to appeal to readers with interests in different periods, but really the imaginative format of the book results in one happily reading about battles from periods in which one might not be at first interested.
The device that sets this book apart from other military histories is to present the reader with the options faced by the commanders on both sides at crucial points in the battle. The options are numbered, with each accompanied by a separate map indicating movement, and followed by a summary of the choice taken by the commander in reality and a description of the result. In truth, there is no detail here that would not be included in a 'traditionally' formatted history book, but I found the explicit listing of options really did make me stop and think. It felt very involving, a little like an interactive museum exhibition as opposed to a display case.
So why only three stars? Basically, I found the maps limiting. The book was published in 1982, and so it may have been a victim of being ahead of its time. Perhaps line maps were all that could be produced at a reasonable cost. Unfortunately, to make informed battlefield decisions, I wanted far more information on topography, land cover etc. Arrows showing the direction of troops is simply not enough, and I found my decision-making to be effectively little more than guesswork.
If this book were to be revisited by a publisher today, and given some glossy treatment, I think it could be something very special. Certainly, it is surprising that there are not more history books written in this vein: after all, it is simply a question of imaginative formatting. It may be a little much to hope, but it would it would be nice if, decades after publication, this book could inspire a trend in interactive and scholarly history writing.