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Stupid Wars: A Citizen's Guide to Botched Putsches, Failed Coups, Inane Invasions, and Ridiculous Revolutions Paperback – April 22, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
If you think you know your history, think again.... A remarkable job recalling several of the dumbest ideas that ended up wasting lives, time and treasure. War is sometimes necessary, but it’s never pretty. Now, thanks to Mike and Ed, we have the proof that war is exceedingly stupid. (Jordan Rich, WBZ Boston)
Excellent, entertaining descriptions of historical figures and events…An irreverent tone and lively writing make this book readable and appealing. (School Library Journal)
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Top Customer Reviews
Stupid Wars lives up to its title, detailing a number of military conflicts waged either for stupid reasons (the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia) or waged stupidly (the Soviet invasion of Finland, the Bay of Pigs). Some wars are fairly well-known, others forgotten, but all impress with their head-scratching inanity: from Paraguay's suicidal involvement in the War of the Triple Alliance and the ill-conceived Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, to Romania's fighting a three-way conflict in WWII and the appallingly-staged US invasion of Grenada, a chronicle of military stupidity and headscratching incompetence is engagingly presented.
The authors try to make these stories accessible without getting bogged down in military and political minutiae, a serious danger with such obscure and inscrutable conflicts. They mostly succeed, providing concise, easy-to-understand yet admirably in-depth accounts of the wars, campaigns and putsches covered. Still, there are some irritants, mostly in the writing style. The authors get some funny bits in but much of the humor is extremely juvenile: for the most obvious example, in the chapter on the War of the Pacific they expound repeatedly on the fact that guano = bird excrement. Did Beavis and Butthead write this chapter? Perhaps it's personal taste but I found this childish tone a bit grating in spots.
On the whole though, Stupid Wars isn't bad for a bit of lighthearted light reading. One must add that there are more than enough "stupid wars" unaccounted for to make a half-dozen sequels, so stay tuned.
It seems like most history classes below the college 300 level are designed to make history so painful and unpleasant that noone will look at another history course. This is, at best, tragic, and worst educational malpractice.
So the common criticism is that history is boring...
The folks who take themselves ever so seriously and have Causes (note the capital 'C'), hiss that history is bourgeois and written by imperialist, colonialist, capitolist running dogs who would be worse than hellspawn if they believed in hell. This is an adolescent and pretentious position to take, but also remarkably short-sighted.
So history is often considered a evil, nasty story written by those foul winners...
This book is a highly entertaining history of screw-ups. From the late Roman empire to the coup against Gorbie, this book has sixteen stories of how not to do it, with examples at the tactical, operational, strategic and grand strategic levels of war. The cases focus mostly on poor judgment at the higher levels (generals and heads of state rather than lieutenants and sergeants) and presents them in a historically accurate (but not always precise) fashion that is utterly unlike what you heard in high school or in the 100 level history classses.
I especially enjoyed the chapters on the War of the Triple Alliance and the Chaco War. These represented extreme cases of the insane excesses heads of state can get up to when they place machismo ahead of reason. And they are portrayed in exactly this light. No heroism, just murderous posturing by penny-ante dictators of third world countries.Read more ›
The premise was appealing to me. Rather than look at the heroic victories of the past, we could probably learn just as much if not more from the epic failures of military leaders throughout time. But the most striking thing about the book is not only that it covers wars that I had almost no knowledge of prior to, but it's a funny read as well.
For instance, I found myself laughing at the part when the authors recount the little-known Winter War between Russia and Finland. After the the last negotiations ended before the war started, Stalin "left to twirl his mustasche and plan the destruction of their country." At another point, one of the crazier characters of the book, Francisco Lopez "Compared himself to Napoleon and Alexander the Great. It would have been true if Napoleon and Alexander had been fat, ignorant failures from obscure countries."
The book is rife with such examples of making fun of blundering, idiotic leaders from the Roman Empire to modern times. Another great thing about the book was that it peaked my interest in various conflicts that I wasn't familiar with beforehand. Since reading the book, I've picked up books on the Russio-Finish War and the Chaco War in South America.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
All wars are stupid - this chronicals them. Things like Russia forgot two things when they invaded Findland in 1940 - the winters are very cold and dark, and the Finnish young men... Read morePublished 11 months ago by W. B. Holloway
Book reviews some pretty well known wars in history. But the style is so irreverent and funny that it
makes for great reading. It's a fun read/
Nice premise, well done. Full of obscure details that make history come alive.Published 16 months ago by PDFero
Every war fought by this Nation was stupid, because all wars fought by us could have been avoided but weren't because all wars were fought for economics. Read morePublished on February 26, 2014 by Jeff Morris
I Love history especially military history books. Some people find them to be laborious to read. Well herein lies the book for you! Read morePublished on December 8, 2013 by Mystikeye
This book was highly predjudiced, biased and favored certain people and events which is highly ridiculous for a history book. Read morePublished on August 6, 2013 by Kindle Customer
Someone mentioned this book on Fark.com and after looking at the synopsis, This was a book I had to have. It was great!Published on February 13, 2013 by jewboy1000
In a monument to the stupidity and cruelty of mankind, this book summarizes some of the stupidest and most inept wars, revolutions, and coups. Read morePublished on October 18, 2011 by Joel E. Mitchell
For the enlightened who enjoyed one of the greatest biting satires of all time - MASH - and its lead character Capt. Read morePublished on June 1, 2010 by Matthew C. Strosser