Understanding Defeat: How to Recover from Loss in Battle to Gain Victory in War

Trevor Nevitt Dupuy, Author Paragon House Publishers $24.95 (312p) ISBN 978-1-55778-099-7
In this follow-up to Understanding War , Dupuy maintains that U.S. military planners fail to think rationally about defeat for fear of appearing defeatist. He argues, persuasively, that the better understood the ``defeat phenomenon'' is, the less defeating it will be. Working with several collaborators, the author examines battlefield losses suffered by Hannibal, Genghis Khan, Frederick the Great, Napoleon and Grant, analyzing each with an intrepid backward glance. Separate chapters by Curtis Johnson, Gay Hammerman, Hugh Cole, Charles MacDonald and Robert McQuie discuss similar humiliations of the ``Great Captains'' and lesser generals, and present a view of defeat from the perspective of the man in the trenches. Dupuy goes further, showing how an inescapable defeat can sometimes be converted into a ``stepping stone'' on the road to ultimate victory (Napoleon at Marengo, Grant at Shiloh, Stilwell in Burma). Finally Dupuy explains how defeat is represented in computerized planning and analysis. This is an unusual study illuminating an unfashionable subject. Charts. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
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