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How to Lose WWII: Bad Mistakes of the Good War (How to Lose Series) Paperback – August 10, 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Fawcett gathers 37 concise, analytical, finger-pointing accounts of these and other battles from ancient times to the late 1960s. He and contributors Brian Thomsen, William R. Forstchen, Douglas Niles and Edward E. Kramer readably and insightfully convey a wide knowledge of military history.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Informative and enjoyable...This book will appeal to both general readers and amateur military historians.” (Booklist)

“I recommend it to the armchair strategist and indeed to any student of military history over the ages.” (Esprit de Corp)

From the Back Cover

An engrossing and fact-filled collection of the great screwups of the Great War

Never had there been a war on the scale of World War II—a global conflict so widespread and involving so many different military organizations from such a diverse pool of combatant countries that the consequences of every decision, both the brilliant and the bad, were multiplied one hundredfold. Bill Fawcett, popular chronicler of monumental military mistakes and truly boneheaded battlefield blunders now looks closely at the historic errors that ultimately determined the course of post-WWII history.

A cornucopia of catastrophic missteps, including:

  • An unprepared Poland is caught napping as the Nazis storm in virtually unopposed
  • Germany misses a golden opportunity to take Britain out of the war at Dunkirk
  • Russia plays Goliath to Finland's David
  • Four valuable months are wasted as Allied forces sit trapped on the beaches of Anzio
  • Germany squanders its costly development of jet power
  • The secret 1942 battle Marshal Zhukov lost, along with half a million soldiers
  • Battles lost that should have been won, including Moscow, Stalingrad, and D-Day
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Product Details

  • Series: How to Lose Series
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061807311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061807312
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David W. Nicholas on August 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
I generally enjoy this sort of book on a superficial level. You get to read 6- or 10-page accounts of various battles and campaigns, with the author giving you some opinion with regards to it: it was a memorable last stand, etc. In this instance, they're going to tell you about various blunders that occurred during World War II. That seemed promising...

OK, so first quibble. The book says it's about World War II, but it's really about World War II in Europe. There are only a few mentions of the campaign in North Africa for instance (Operation Battleax isn't mentioned, and neither is Operation Crusader, to show how cursory the coverage is here) and there's no mention of the campaign in the Pacific at all. Huge blunders of World War II in Europe (Mussolini invading Greece for example) only are mentioned briefly, if at all. Instead, the editor spends most of his author's time concentrating on a few incidents (there are two pieces each on the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Bulge, for example) and spends the rest of his time on blunders that don't seem that egregious. Poland's plight hardly seems the fault of its leaders, though I will grant you they didn't make things any better with their actions at the beginning of the war.

And lastly there's the issue of the blunders in the book. When you're going to compose a book like this, and criticise others for their errors, it would be good if you didn't make any mistakes at all, or at least very very few. Unfortunately, in just a cursory reading of this book I caught several errors which are unneccessary, and which detract seriously from the story. Poland, for instance, actually *did* have tanks, about 200 of them. They deployed them foolishly, with the result that they were destroyed without contributing to their war effort.
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First, the downsides of the book: I purchased this book hoping it would delve into recent discoveries or documents that shed light on blunders that affected the outcome of World War II. Unfortunately, for me, this was not the case because "How to Lose WWII" did not present any new or groundbreaking information. Alas, there is the issue with the title; it is a little deceptive as book's contents exclusively deal with the war in Europe, as there is no substantive reference to the Pacific Theatre in this book. One may surmise that titling the book "How to Lose WWII", the author is implying the war in Europe mattered more, but...

Now the positives: From the first few chapters, I realized the book was not what I was hoping for, however, I still wanted to read it entirely because I enjoyed the way the material was being presented. Starting with the end of World War I, each "mistake" represents a chapter that covers the War in Europe chronologically, all the way to the Battle of the Bulge (curiously, the last battle-related blunder covered by the book ... no Battle for Berlin). The last few chapters cover topics that are not necessarily battle-related, but involve strategic decision-making errors that impacted the scope of the European Theatre. Each 4 to 6 page chapter is written individually from a group of three or four authors. This format allowed for a quick and fun read as the writers simplify and convey complex information in a short, but concise and readable manner. Adding to the mix are the authors' asides that literally mock some of the blunders and highlight the occasional ineptitude exhibited by Hitler, Eisenhower, Churchill and the like.
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Format: Paperback
Fawcett has done a good job of editing this collection of articles dealing with how the Allies and Axis powers could have won some significant battles if they had done things differently. If you are a World War II history buff, you have more than likely read much that is included here. Skim the book first and you'll probably not find much that is new. If on the other hand, you are on a casual reader of WWII history, this is well edited and covers some of the better "what if" situations in the European and Pacific theaters.
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Format: Paperback
This sort of book is perfect for the bookstores of airport lobbies around the world. It is, in essence, just under 300 pages of brief chapters each of which details some sort of gaffe or piece of stupidity by military or political leaders in and leading up to WW2. The work is written by a number of authors and covers a range of areas such as the Polish campaign, the German problems in invading Russia, Hitlers lunacy, Allied problems at Casino and Anzio and the Normandy campaign as well as Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge.

As such it is a real grab bag of goodies and even if you have a relatively good knowledge of WW2 overall the concise nature of the way the subjects are tackled makes for a nice read. You don't need to be an expert on military history or even know a lot about military hardware or nomenclature. In fact it would probably make a fun gift to the young military history enthusiast in your family as the writing is fairly simple (which may be a downside for older or more well-read customers).

And that's all I have to say about that...
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