Arrogant Armies: Great Military Disasters and the Generals Behind Them

James M. Perry, Author, Dame Perry, Author John Wiley & Sons $35 (314p) ISBN 978-0-471-11976-0
As the senior political writer for the Wall Street Journal, Perry has seen his share of losers on the campaign trail (including the senator he portrayed in Barry Goldwater). But, apparently hungry for more, he now has gone to war, visiting some of the great military disasters, and the officers who engineered them. Perry's crew is motley but, other than in his conclusion, is limited to British, American, Italian, Spanish and French generals from the mid-1700s until the early 20th century. The conclusion offers a few pages on the U.S. experience in Somalia and closes movingly with the names of the 18 Americans who died there in two days in October 1993. One might wish for a longer study covering more and bigger battles, one that includes clashes like Dien Bien Phu, which drove the French out of Vietnam and set the stage for American involvement there. But the 11 tales Perry tells will have readers shaking their heads. Here is America's Major General William R. Shafter, for instance, decried as ""criminally incompetent"" by Teddy Roosevelt, guiding troops into a major debacle during the Spanish-American War; and here is Britain's General Edward Braddock marching off during the French and Indian War into Indian-occupied forests with his troops wearing bright red coats and making much noise. These soldiers never bothered to find out the lay of the land and were slaughtered. Braddock's bloody incompetence is typical of Perry's chronicles, which will leave readers sated with confirmation of stupidity in high places. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Open Ebook - 314 pages - 978-0-470-34705-8
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-7858-2023-9
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!