DAYS OF INFAMY by Michael Coffey

DAYS OF INFAMY

Great Military Blunders of the Twentieth Century

KIRKUS REVIEW

A fun albeit shallow look by Coffey, managing editor of Publishers Weekly and editor of The Irish in America (not reviewed)—the companion volume to an upcoming History Channel series—and with a lengthy and rewarding introduction by 60 Minutes” Mike Wallace. Arranged chronologically within each war, Days of Infamy covers the greatest hits of military history in this century. There is nothing here that will come as a surprise to even a casual reader of modern history, but the accounts are written in light and casual style, with the facts always straight and clear, that makes the book an ideal occasional read. Coffey’s definition of a military blunder seems to include any event that has happened during wartime, such as the Treaty of Versailles (more a diplomatic blunder than a military one) or the WWII bombing mission lost due to poor weather, but many of the tales certainly do fall into the genuine military blunder category, such as WWI’s infamous Gallippoli (in which British and Australian troops were sent to attack a heavily defended Turkish beach); the story of the “Bridge Too Far” at Arnhem in WWII, in which the allies underestimated German capabilities in attempting to bring the war in Europe to a swift end; John F. Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs disaster; the US bomber crash that brought four H-bombs plummeting onto Spain; and Jimmy Carter’s attempt to free the hostages in Iran with a complicated military mission. Coffey is at his best when covering the large sweep of history in brief spurts, such as his introductions to the various sections into which the book is divided by historical periods. Brief, well-researched, and ultimately unenlightening, on a topic that involves the deaths of millions and could go on for volumes. (16 pages b&w photos)

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1999
ISBN: 0-7868-6556-3
Page count: 283pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1999




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