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This book does what it says on the cover and in the introduction - it presents a series of battle descriptions to give an overview of several main themes in military history. The battles are divided into what Overy sees as the main causes of victory: Leadership, Luck, Innovation, Deception, Courage, and Timing. Unfortunately these categories are poorly defined and don't work well. For example in the "Leadership" battles Overy sometimes points to the planning skill of the leader, sometimes to their personal courage, sometimes to their timing, and sometimes to the their use of innovation.
Overy provides a lot of historical background for each battle, about both the general circumstances and the campaign leading up to the point of battle. This is often at the expense of battle detail itself - even detail that might illustrate the theme.
These problems detract from the book as a serious study of military themes, but it is still a good casual read - great for picking and selecting a battle or two at random.
As an audio book, the listener is forced to listen to the battles in order, and can't skim over any part of the description. The narration is ... odd. Steven Crossley is a very expressive reader, but the emphasis is constantly misplaced. It is as if he has four or five cadences to roll out expressive sentences, regardless of the actual content. Minor details are made to sound significant, and progressions of ideas are broken up by misplaced verbal clues that a climax has been reached. I recommend listening to a decent sized example before purchasing - it can get very irritating after a while.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A fascinating study of 100 key battles in military history. Many well known and many obscure, the author gives a concise account of each one and its significance it he development of warfare.
Excellent narration. A must for any armchair military buff.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Gives a great overview of the history of civilization by looking at battles. An interesting window to view history through. I consider myself a history buff but learned a lot from this.
One complaint... The reading is slow with some long pauses. I turned the speed to roughly 1.35x and it was perfect.
Overall I highly recommend this book.