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Publisher's Summary

History has tended to measure war's winners and losers in terms of its major engagements, battles in which the result was so clear-cut that they could be considered "decisive". Cannae, Konigsberg, Austerlitz, Midway, Agincourt - all resonate in the literature of war and in our imaginations as tide-turning. But these legendary battles may or may not have determined the final outcome of the wars in which they were fought.

Cathal J. Nolan's The Allure of Battle systematically and engrossingly examines the great battles, tracing what he calls "short-war thinking", the hope that victory might be swift and wars brief. As he proves persuasively, however, such has almost never been the case. Even the major engagements have mainly contributed to victory or defeat by accelerating the erosion of the other side's defenses.

Massive conflicts, the so-called "people's wars", beginning with Napoleon and continuing until 1945, have consisted of and been determined by prolonged stalemate and attrition, industrial wars in which the determining factor has been not military but materiel. Nolan's masterful book places battles squarely and mercilessly within the context of the wider conflict in which they took place. In the process it helps correct a distorted view of battle's role in war.

©2017 Cathal J. Nolan (P)2018 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This is one of the most valuable military histories in years. A must-read for students of military history." (Kirkus, Starred Review)

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Missing important facts and not well researched

The book is not very well researched and it is missing many important historical facts.

For example, it repeats the old German propaganda and myth that the Polish Air Force was destroyed on the ground in the first two days of September 1939.This, of course, is simply untrue. Polish squadrons were deployed to reserve airfields following the mobilization on 30 and 31 August, and played an active role in the campaign till September 17th, when the Red Army invaded Poland from the east and the evacuation order was given. 

This book does not even mention the Polish-Soviet War (February 1919 – March 1921). This War was an armed conflict between the Second Polish Republic, the Ukrainian People's Republic, Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine over the control of an area equivalent to today's Ukraine and parts of modern-day Belarus. In 1921 Poland won and stopped the Communist Revolution from spreading into Europe. Had Poland lost this war and let the Red Army advance into Europe, then Germany, Hungary, Romania, Italy might have gone Communist.

6 of 13 people found this review helpful