If, like me, your attention span for history is shorter than it really should be and your ability to retain historical facts is limited, then this book could be for you. Pollard has collected a confectionery of pithy stories from the history of warfare, so that you and I can read and enjoy, and also bluff our way through conversations about history with a funny ancedote. One of the bits of history that most people have for instant recall is that "Archduke Ferdninand was shot in the Balkans"; well that's here too, and you can read about the near-miss that was the assassination attempt in Sarajevo. A few of the stories ring vague bells with me, like the "Zimmermann Telegram" which brought the USA into the first World War, but largely the stories were new to me, and the tales of sinking, crashing and collapsing of everything that might be expected to float, fly or stay vaguely solid make it a page turner. For example, the sinking of the Mary Rose has been much written about, but who remembers the sinking of the Royal George, which rather ingloriously sank while rum barrels were being loaded through gunports near the waterline? Pollard is good at concisely telling the salient facts, with humour, but also with due respect for the topic. This book is a bluffer's guide to military history, and I hope that other books in the series will follow so that I can appear to be knowledgeable in other areas of history in the future.
We bought "The Interesting Bits" last Christmas for four people and ourselves and everyone was delighted with such a fantastic book. Now they are all getting "Charge!" for this Christmas. It is a great read -well written, witty and requires no background knowledge of history to enjoy it. I hope there is another one next year otherwise we'll be stuck as to what to give...
This book is a nice easy read containing numerous interesting stories and facts. It will reinforce your historical knowledge with some of the more bizarre events that have occurred throughout the history of warfare. It is a good addition to any historian's library in order to supplement the conventional with a small compendium of lesser known historical events and trivia.
Overall a very good read, I would recommend the book to others who are interested in Military History and want a lighter, yet still informative read.
The book contains stories from all over the world and does not focus solely on British Military History.
I bought this book, heavy with jet lag, on the basis of its title alone and the promise that it would indeed contain only interesting bits. As the flight wore on, I was not disappointed. From high politics, to personal dismemberment, it treats its subjects broad and detailed with genuine wit. Smashes, mad dashes, sinkings, disease, a smattering of sex, repeated disaster. How was the empire on which the sun never set founded upon such stuff? One can only assume everyone else was even worse. The book also proved an excellent neck support when I finally did get to sleep somewhere over central Asia. I commend it to anyone who likes choice nuggets of footnote history or who is flying long distance without a pillow.
This little book is packed solid with every bit of general knowledge and ancedote relating to military history and is a must for anyone interested in history or the military.
The author is a great writer and historian, famous for being one of the main writers/researcher behind BBC2's QI and historical consultant for The Tudors, Atonement and many other projects. This would be the perfect gift for the person in your life who likes history in bite sized accessible chunks.