The Hinge Factor: How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History (Anglais) Broché – 10 novembre 2011
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Description du produit
Revue de presse
'Durschmeid brings an eye for the telling detail.'
'His tales of mayhem and confusion can be gripping, informative and genuinely idea-provoking. He reveals again and again, the casual impact of happenstance.'
'This entertaining book considers the errors and incidents that have shaped the world as we know it rather than as we planned it might be.'
'His vivid descriptions of battles explain all.'
'Gripping, riveting. Fascinating. Even when you're sure you know what happened and whodunit, Erik Durschmeid provides another twist.'
'Erik Durschmeid's revelations are wholly captivating.'
Manchester Evening News
'He does highlight some amazing truths and who can say he is wrong?'
Cumberland Evening News & Star--Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
Présentation de l'éditeur
The Hinge Factor vividly describes battles which demonstrate this phenomenon - including the circumstances behind the loss of the Holy Cross, through to the attack of African war bees in 1914, to Star Wars weaponry described in the Gulf War. This enthralling book demystifies the general belief that battles are always won due to the brilliance of a general and will both inform and entertain a wide audience. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
Durschmied examines 17 events, most of them military encounters, and examines the course of each event in detail, including his description of what he calls the Hinge Factor, the one occurrence that ensured the eventual result. Some of these events are quite well known, like Waterloo, the Trojan Horse, and the Charge of the Light Brigade, while others are rather obscure, even for those fairly familiar with military history. In each case, he devotes some 20 or 30 pages describing the military actions leading up to the encounter and then the conduct of the battle itself, along with its aftermath. He also poses (but doesn’t answer) some provocative questions, asking how the battle might have turned out if one side or the other had done something different.
Durschmied’s style and approach are somewhat of a mixed bag. Although he does his best to describe the tactics and troop movements in lay terms, this is still a book that will likely be better appreciated by military buffs. He names troops and weapons but doesn’t always describe them too well, so reading that two brigades were opposed by one division won’t mean that much for those who aren’t aware of the strengths of the units. And, since the battles he describes range from the Crusades to the First Gulf War, the weaponry and effective strategy involved change drastically.
One of Durschmied’s strengths is his characterization of the various commanders involved. He isn’t shy about criticizing generals for being lazy, vain, overly timid, foolhardy, or downright stupid, and his descriptions of the battles generally back him up. The author does adopt one annoying convention of recreating supposed conversations in which the commanders discuss what they are going do. I appreciate his attempts to make the book more accessible to the general public, but obviously no one was recording what the Crusaders said before they went into battle. Simply stating facts (supported by contemporary accounts) or expressing his opinions of what might have been discussed would, in my view, have made for a better book.
When it comes to Durschmeid’s main thesis, that much of human history turns on a more or less chance event, the author is less successful in proving his point. In some cases, such as one battle which was actually a friendly fire incident in which various units of the same army started shooting at each other over possession of a barrel of schnapps, it’s pretty clear that the “hinge” led to the eventual result. In others, such as the first Gulf War, the best hinge he can come up with was Saddam Hussein’s miscalculation in invading Kuwait in the first place. He also is on shakier ground in ascribing long term consequences to some of these events. Yes, Napoleon could easily have won at Waterloo and changed European history significantly, but in some cases, the side that wins the battle gains little. The mistakes that cost the members of the Light Brigade their lives, even if avoided, wouldn’t have affected the Crimean War very much at all.
I should point out that this is the second edition of Durschmied’s book, written in 2015, following an earlier edition from 2000. I don’t know exactly what changes were made, but the author did add a second prologue briefly discussing 9/11 and the Second Gulf War and its aftermath. Ironically, that material better illustrates his point (a handful of men armed with box cutters changed the entire face of the Middle East) than some of his original chapters do.
“The Hinge Factor” is a difficult book to rate, because its appeal will probably vary depending on the audience. Military buffs will probably enjoy it a great deal, while more general audiences may get confused by some of the details (more maps would definitely have helped). Even those who enjoy Durschmeid’s description of battles, generals, and tactics will probably find that he loses focus on his main theme at times in his zest for getting into the heat of battle. But he brings up many fascinating bits of trivia many people will enjoy (the Trojan Horse was successful, not because of the handful of Greeks inside, but because the Horse was so big the Trojans had to take apart the gates of the city to get it inside, thus leaving themselves wide open for a sneak attack). Since “The Hinge Factor” bills itself as more of a general interest book and isn’t that strong in demonstrating its main premise in several chapters, I am giving it a marginal three-star recommendation for general audiences, with the caveat that military history fans will get more out of it.
This book may pique your interest in reading more about some of these events. I will be reading Erik's other books which I am sure will not disappoint.
What is annoying is the inconsistency of quoting foreigners speaking their native tongue. Some Europeans are quoted as such with an accompanying English translation, some are not- even when the quote is at some length, leaving those of us trying to master just one tongue unnecessarily in the dark. It is not that deep a subject. Russians, Arabs and those from the Far East are deemed honorary English and are quoted as such.
A small point, but as the book ably points out, sometimes it is the smaller choices that have the largest impact.
Minus 1 star because this should be a much more encompassing book; way too short!