VICTORY AND DECEIT by James F. Dunnigan

VICTORY AND DECEIT

Dirty Tricks at War

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A whole-earth catalogue of martial cunning that suggests Victorian novelist Francis E. Smedley was at least half right when he decreed that ``all's fair in love and war.'' In a breezy survey more notable for breadth than depth, Dunnigan and Nofi (Shooting Blanks, 1991) offer a series of short, self-contained takes that show why guile ranks among the most effective weapons in any arsenal. Accounts range from how the Israelites employed false retreats in their conquest of Canaan through the ways in which the Allies concealed their capacity to decode Axis radio traffic. Before getting down to ammunition cases, however, the authors provide introductory perspectives on such tricks of the military trade as ambuscades, camouflage, concealment, disinformation, and feints. Having set the scene, they deliver a roughly chronological guide that rambles from the wily warriors of ancient times (Joshua, Alexander, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, et al.) through the havoc indigenous insurgents or outlaws have wreaked on UN peacekeepers in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. Along their episodic way, Dunnigan and Nofi comment knowledgeably on the practice of deception during the Crusades, several revolutions (including the American), early US campaigns against native American tribes, two global conflicts, and a host of other hostilities, including what the authors call ``the other Gulf War,'' which pitted Iran against Iraq for most of the 1980s. They also cover the sly likes of Cesare Borgia, George Washington, Napoleon, Rommel, two generations of Israeli commanders, and the spymasters who waged most of the Cold War's major battles. Nor do they scant the contributions of technology (advanced or otherwise) to essentially bloodless triumphs in belligerencies down through the ages. Savvy, often sardonic briefings on the consequential role of subterfuge in an enterprise in which, as the old saw has it, truth is the first casualty. (maps, charts, tables)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-688-12236-1
Page count: 350pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1995




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