A kind of Hall of Fame of major military blunders committed by overconfident commanders and politicians. Wall Street Journal reporter Perry awards most of the booby prizes to pompous British officers who looked down on ``inferior'' native peoples in the heady days of empire. Some Spanish, Italian, French, and American disasters also make the list. The author combs primary sources, such as diaries, letters, memoirs, and news reports, to create some exotic, fascinating tales of idiots (Perry's word) responsible for an appalling loss of human life. We read of Braddock's defeat at the hands of French and Indians (who used guerilla-like tactics against the regimented British troops) in the Pennsylvania wilderness (1765); the destruction of General St. Clair's army (178990), the worst defeat ever inflicted by Indians on an American army; the thrashing inflicted on the French by liberated slaves in Haiti (17931804); and such British debacles as Afghanistan (183942), the First Boer War (188081), and the fall of Khartoum (188485). Also, Perry recounts the Italian catastrophe at Adowa, Ethiopia (189596), American general Shafter's incompetence in the Spanish-American War (1898), the bungled Spanish War of conquest in Morocco (192126), and the American mini-disaster in Somalia (199294). Perry argues that these military failures had many common factors: the hubris of commanders, contempt for native soldiers and guerrillas, bad intelligence, over-reliance on advanced equipment, and incompetent military and political leadership. In most cases, the best armies of the times were defeated by mobile, lightly armed natives. A study of historic episodes and characters that should be of interest to readers at a time of military adventures in Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia. It should also be required reading for military cadets, politicians, and the bureaucrats who typically direct wars from a safe distance. (12 photos)

Pub Date: May 3, 1996

ISBN: 0-471-11976-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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