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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 10 reviews
on November 28, 2015
Very detailed and yet superficial writing on military disasters. For example there are two officers put in charge of failed efforts that were chosen by George Washington and yet no mention of how or why they were chosen over other candidates. Same applies to the failed British expeditions where generals were apparently chosen based on their social connections and not abilities to lead men or organize a military effort. Often the failures were as much the result of inadequate numbers of men or munitions or field pieces or the refusal of the government to send reinforcements but this is only commented on briefly and not the underlying reasons or the people "back home" that were being so cavalier.

In terms of scale there are minor expeditions that pale in comparison to the lives lost in a single day in the Civil War or during WW I. The thousands who died at Anzio while the general waited for more supplies while the Germans took up a fortified position on the ridge is certainly the type of failure of the leaders who usually survive the calamities they create while their men pay the price with their lives.

The author chose to cover a very few minor disasters in excruciating detail that added nothing to understanding the dimensions of the failure or its origins and this is the major shortcoming of the book.
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on March 21, 2011
Lest you think Geoffrey Regan has the market cornered on books regarding military incompetence, James M. Perry provides an excellent account of blundering and hubris which led to military disasters.

Perry mostly ignores the blunders of "big wars" (aside from one fairly obscure World War I campaign) and focuses on badly mismanaged colonial conflicts, where a "civilized" country was humbled by a native power inferior in arms and technology, but not tactics or competence. Some conflicts depicted are well-known, others more obscure, but all extremely illustrative of Perry's point: hubris is surely as important a factor in warfare as tactics, technology or leadership.

Rather than place his arguments in a theoretical framework like Regan, Perry examines conflicts on a case-by-case basis. There are significant differences between what went wrong in Braddock's Monogahela Expedition, say, and Charles Gordon's doomed stand at Khartoum against the Mahdists, and Perry accounts for a variety of failures. Simple incompetence is often compounded by factors often beyond an army's control: political finagling (Italy's invasion of Ethiopia), logsitical problems (the Rif War), climate (the "reconquest" of Haiti), and a simple idea that the enemy is scarcely worth fighting. These detailed examinations are both interesting and thought-provoking, making it clear how and why a specific campaign or expedition failed.

Perry's writing style is crisp, lively and easy to read, making this a treat for both history buffs and lay readers. He doesn't hestitate to pass judgment, but he's about as judicious as an author can be to the likes of Arthur St. Clair and Charles Townshend. A few chapters are subpar; for instance, Perry's coverage of the Rif War is basically a cliffnotes version of David Woolmann's excellent Rebels in the Rif. I agree with another reviewer on this page, that conflicts more recent than 1925 might have been surveyed, especially post-colonial adventures like Indochina/Vietnam, Suez, Grenada, etc. On the whole, though, there isn't much to complain about.

With the possible exception of Charles Fall's From the Jaws of Victory, Arrogant Armies is the best book I've read on the subject of military incompetence and a worthy addition to any history buff's bookshelf.
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on April 2, 2014
A well written history of some of the worst military campaigns around the world. The title is quite appropriate - so many disasters came about because someone thought that a modern, well armed military was no match for what was perceived to be a mere armed rabble. Sound familiar? Sadly, this mistake occurs again and again, right up to today.
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on December 4, 2016
Received in good order and on time. Thank you.
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on February 15, 2017
great book. Great service/
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on May 4, 2012
this is a fantastic book for a history major and military father. For those who want to learn the interesting parts of history and laugh at army antics, this is a great find. For this college student, this book is perfect between blander readings.
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