How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History: The Hinge Factor

How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History: The Hinge Factor

by Erik Durschmied


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From the Trojan Horse to a photograph snapped in Vietnam, world history has been shaped as much by chance and error as by courage and heroism. Despite impossible odds, invincible armies fall in bitter defeat to weaker opponents. How and why does this happen? What decides the fate of battle? In this fascinating book, Erik Durschmied takes us through the major conflicts of history—from Agincourt to the Civil War, from Crimea to the Gulf War—and reveals how, in war, it is the improbable and the inconceivable that determine events.

Writing with the style and flair that made him an award-winning war correspondent, Durschmied explores the fistful of nails that could have won Waterloo for Napoleon; the barrel of schnapps that proved disastrous for an Austrian emperor; and the three cigars that changes the course of Antietam; and many other instances when chance decided history’s path. Conflicts are decided by the caprice of weather, erroneous intelligence, unlikely heroism, strange coincidence, or individual incompetence—in short, by the unpredictable “hinge factor.”

Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in history—books about World War II, the Third Reich, Hitler and his henchmen, the JFK assassination, conspiracies, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, gladiators, Vikings, ancient Rome, medieval times, the old West, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781628726435
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 07/19/2016
Pages: 420
Sales rank: 376,390
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Erik Durschmied was born in Vienna in 1930 and emigrated to Canada after World War II. A television war correspondent for the BBC and CBS, he has covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Belfast, Beirut, Chile, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, and Vietnam, and won numerous awards for his work. He lives in Paris and Provence with his family.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Prologue xiii

Preface to the 2016 Edition xix

1 A Wooden Horse: Troy, 1184 BC 1

2 The Loss of the True Cross: The Horns of Hattin, 4 July 1187 7

3 A Rabble with Bare Feet: Agincourt, 25 October 1415 27

4 A Barrel of Schnapps: Karansebes, 20 September 1788 49

5 A Fistful of Nails: Waterloo, 18 June 1815 61

6 The Fourth Order: Balaclava, 25 October 1854 101

7 Three Cigars: Antietam, 17 September 1862 123

8 Two Counts and One Prince: Königgrätz, 3 July 1866 143

9 A Fair Fight: Spioen Kop, 24 January 1900 163

10 A Slap on the Face: Tannenberg, 28 August 1914 189

11 The Sting of a Bee: Tanga, 5 November 1914 211

12 Der Halte Befehl: France, 21 May 1940 225

13 A Shark on the Loose: North Atlantic, 27 May 1941 255

14 The Sorge Enigma: Moscow, 6 December 1941 289

15 One Man's Death: Vietnam, 31 January 1968 313

16 And the Wall Came Tumbling Down: Berlin, 9 November 1989 331

17 The Zero Factor: The Gulf, 17 January 1991 345

Epilogue 369

Bibliography 379

Index 385

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How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History: The Hinge Factor 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
20/20 hindsight?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chapter 1, Troy, read like a comic. Crap. Keep reading.