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The Battles that Changed History (Dover Military History, Weapons, Armor) Paperback – March 27, 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
The key to this book is the phrase "Changed History" in the title. In his introduction, Pratt takes pains to distinguish his list of battles from those of the progenitor of the genre, Sir Edward Creasy, whose "Fifteen Decisive Battles" provided the inspiration for Pratt's work. Pratt notes that so many famous Western battles (e.g. Hastings or Tours) actually played a defensive or reinforcing role in history rather than "changing history." This insight leads Pratt to choose some battles that many might view as eccentric (e.g. Beneventum, the original "Pyrrhic victory", rather than, say, Zama, which ended the Second Punic War). It is Pratt's rationale for these choices, expressed in clear, crisp prose, that makes this book so valuable for younger readers in need of a boost in their motivation to read history.
The content was good; the author breaks down the battles and puts in some background to put things in perspective; it's not just a dry listing of locations and body counts. I liked that he added in some political backstory on why some of these battles occurred, and why he considers them history changing. I also liked that he didn't just pick the 'big three' (or five or seven), but really tried to examine history before and after the events and explain the why. He has a wry sense of humor that shows in some of the descriptions of the key decision makers (and their decisions).
If this was all there was, this would be a four or five star book. However...
Whoever edited this book for the Oxford City Press should be fired without references. I suspect that this was supposed to be a scholarly work. Unfortunately, there are so many grammatical errors and such convoluted sentence structures that it is hard to read; sometimes I had to read a paragraph three or four times to figure out what was intended, what word was left out, or what the auto-correct function inserted by mistake. Just because the spell checker stops underlining words does NOT mean that it is correct. For instance (p 187): "He had little concept of the king of man Howe was up against."
For convolution, on page 188, "...a stroke that would have been decisive. Here it was decisive also, but in the contrary sense."
For poor editing, the author introduces the work 'homonoia' on page 2 (which I suppose is Greek), but he doesn't explain that it means "the unity of concord" until 15 pages and several references later.Read more ›
Pratt is a lively writer, with many good history books and much good science fiction and fantasy to his credit. He describes the era, the players, and the background as well as the events. He has some wonderful turns of phrase, such as "The Greeks had to go imperial to make it stand up." or "Within the omens instantly became favorable. The Romans poured out like a swarm of hornets..."
I first read this book in high school. Many years, and a college degree in history later, it's still good, and Pratt's basic theme is still very tenable. His knowledge of his subjects and their periods is very deep.
By the way, its a good book. I recommend it. Just count the pages when you get it . . .
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great stuff. This is an accessible, fun read for any student of military history. Good choice of battles, effective descriptions of what made them important, and how the winners... Read morePublished 8 months ago by James Hemphill
This was a gift for my daughter for her thesis research. She was happy with it.Published 9 months ago by Sc
This is a good read, much better than Creasy's Decisive Battles (few of which were really decisive at the time; just turned out that way). Read morePublished 11 months ago by Bookworm64
I enjoyed reading this after finding it on Kindle. The copy I bought at college in the early sixties had disintegratedPublished 17 months ago by S. Gibbs
Not quite what I thought it would be, but it is interesting.Published 20 months ago by Nathan Vigil
Great look at battles/campaigns that altered the direction the world's history took and how it led to the evolution of warfare.Published on October 6, 2014 by Robert
Difficult to fathom the author's reasons for picking the 16 battles he did. Sometimes he made the case, other times such as #8, Leyden and the Foundation of Sea Power he failed... Read morePublished on March 15, 2014 by Robert L. Roos
An excellent read. Walk along with the author as he relates the ins and outs of various battles that, quite literally, changed the course of history. Read morePublished on January 16, 2014 by J. K. Quackenbush
This book was an unexpected goldmine. It's not just one of my favorite military history books, it's one of my favorite books. Read morePublished on February 15, 2012 by F. Schaaf