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The Allure of Battle

A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost
Written by: Cathal J. Nolan
Narrated by: Julian Elfer
Length: 25 hrs and 30 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)
Price: CDN$ 50.07
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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

What the critics say

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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An enjoyable listen

Review is for audio book listened to on Audible: A interesting book that took a unique path of a historical review of the pull of decisive battle over probably more sound strategic concepts. I did not give five stars as occasionally the book spent a few sentences as the following: on the battles that took place on 1883, at x on 1885 then at x on 1893 and then again at 1896 in X. In a read book this makes less of a difference but on audible book it tended to drag a area of the book. If you have come this far in looking at books of this type you should definitely read/listen to it.

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  • Glenn Anthony
  • 2018-07-06

A book to break the hearts of those who love war.

“The more one studies war, the more one comes to hate war.” That is the theme, and while there is the very occasional detail which I can dispute, the overall point is made perhaps beyond rational dispute. Well done, and kudos to the narrator as well!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • PJ Hamilton
  • 2018-09-16

deep pockets & a long magazine.

well read, do holes in thought but well stated and credible. He will make you stop and engage in some rethinking

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  • jake
  • 2018-05-15

very good...

but I do not believe some of the conclusions the author came to. it's a detailed look at major recent wars and how they were won.

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  • G. Masterson
  • 2018-05-09

Excellent overview but leaves several questions

Good performance but glosses over Hitler (and Napoleon's) near triumphs as criticisms of his thesis.

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  • Andrew's Wife
  • 2018-02-24

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.

9 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Ira S. Saposnik
  • 2018-03-09

the allure of alliteration always

What did you like best about The Allure of Battle? What did you like least?

when it ended by far when it began, by farther

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

what ending? I fell asleep, thankfully Oh, no spoilers? The world is still here facebook fanatics

Did Julian Elfer do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

john wilkes booth never got a more kind considerate or colloquial kinetic crumbcake

Do you think The Allure of Battle needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

sure, the Manure of Battle always comes out at the end

Any additional comments?

toss it away although it weighs a ton
Maybe it will melt by the force of the sun

1 of 30 people found this review helpful