Near-antic perspectives on errant belligerencies and their causes and consequences. Dunnigan (A Quick and Dirty Guide to War, with Austin Ray, 1984; How to Make War, 1982) and Nofi offer a breezy but dead-on and ready reference to latter-day military disasters. Their cases in point range from the Franco-German miscalculations that marked the early stages of WW I through Saddam Hussein's disastrous attacks on Iraq and Kuwait. The authors provide tellingly detailed briefings on the many factors contributing to failed hostilities- -e.g., faulty intelligence, armed forces unready to fight battles they must, ignorant journalists who mislead the home-front public, weapons systems that don't perform as anticipated in combat, and domestic political agendas that prove ill-advised. While Dunnigan and Nofi focus on the cold war's principal adversaries--the US and USSR (whose interventions in Vietnam and Afghanistan, respectively, afford almost endless sources of object lessons)--they don't neglect manifestations of such phenomena in other countries. Accordingly, the text provides a wealth of fresh insights on Israel's belief that the PLO could be crushed in Lebanon, Argentina's certainty that Great Britain would not defend the Falkland Islands, NATO's gross overestimate of its Warsaw Pact opponents, and assorted other misjudgments. Covered as well are trouble spots that could precipitate brush-fire conflicts between Greece and Turkey, Egypt and Lybia, Argentina and Chile, Taiwan and mainland China, etc. There are engaging digressions, including an appreciation of successful commanders (Hannibal, Napoleon, Robert E. Lee, Rommel) who probably should have been sacked, plus against- the-grain evidence that the US military/industrial complex makes a comparatively good job of national defense. A savvy rundown for armchair generals and concerned citizens on the war games played by sovereign states in pursuit of global or regional advantage.