on 27 November 2007
If you meet a historian they are generally fun loving individuals. Yet when they write they feel this great sense to keep humour out of things. The result can all too often be worthy but dry. This is a mistake because just as pain and horror are a natural part of war so is the occassional laugh. Great historical writers are able to show you both and that's what this book does.
A word of warning the title implies that this is about military blunders and from time to time they do crop up (poor old admiral Byng) but really this is about men of power behaving badly. Indeed the military connection is at times tenuous.
The format is also perfect for a commuter. Rarely the stories go beyond 5 pages making it very easy to dip in and out of, indeed my wife is now reading it on her commute!
It is also a little odd that you get a couple from ancient history and then all history is forgotten until we get to about 1700. Surely a sequel will be out about our Medieval ancestors?
Saying that though each and every story is great. Be it the heart breaking issue of the British concentration camps of the Boer war to the black humour of the huge quantities of assault rifles in Switzerland. The afterword is a little preachy after the slightly caustic tone of the book but this is a minor point.
Overall a highly enjoyable read
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