Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
Superb toilet reading.
on 11 December 2014
Amongst popular historical circles, Taylor is a household name due to his long standing career and academic rigor. However, this piece of work falls short in terms of academic feats and falls most certainly into the category of 'pop' history.
The book is woefully short, which does not necessarily have to be a bad thing as quality always comes before quantity. Ye considering that Taylor looks to analyse six different conflicts spanning two centuries, the phrase "bit off more than he could chew" springs to mind. There is simply too much crammed into too few pages, resulting in arguments and analysis that come across as rushed and not entirely convincing at times.
Due to the fast paced nature of the book, Taylor fails to delve into any sort of detail with regard to his case studies. As a result, the work comes across as him putting across a bit of a monologue rather than presenting a series of topic for debate. Monologue at times unfortunately turns to diatribe at times.
With regard to the book's presentation, I read the kindle version and it was rife with miss-prints in terms of spelling errors and incorrect dates!! If one does not already have a fair bit of contextual knowledge before approaching this book then be prepared for serious confusion. I am unaware of whether such poor editing is unique to the kindle version but it became extremely frustrating being told that Hitler invaded Russia in 1911 and that Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo in 1915...
Not to say that there aren't many positives in the work. It's short length and broad time span allow it to give a very brief coverage of a large spa of history, allowing the reader to perhaps gauge an interest in a specific area to follow up. There are certainly numerous interesting pieces of insight put forward by Taylor that on occasion are extremely thought provoking, especially his points with regard to military deterrents. Yet as already mentioned, the length means that as soon as he begins to make what appears to be developing into a significant argument, the next chapter begins and the reader is left hanging and somewhat disappointed.
In all, an average at best attempt to put across some views on the complex and at times baffling nature of warfare. An informative although brief read perhaps for a plane journey or to put in one's toilet literature bowl to make house guests think you're a bit of a thinker....As long as you pay minimum money for it (glad I only paid 99p), you might not feel too let down.