Historys Great Military Blunders and the Lessons They Teach
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"All battles are in some degree...disasters." These words by military historian John Keegan are true in that military conflicts inevitably involve death and destruction. Yet despite their tragic cost, many battles are regarded as great triumphs, while others are nearly universally declared blunders. What qualifies such battles for special condemnation-or inquiry, for that matter? Why focus on failure at all?
Perhaps above all else, it is the element of avoidability that makes these catastrophes so worthy of exploration. Military history often highlights success and suggests a sense of inevitability about victory, but there is so much that can be learned from studying failure, particularly when its unexpected. From how the arc of history was altered by the outcome of these battles to how such mistakes could have been avoided to how they might be circumvented in the future, there are numerous important lessons to be gleaned. You even consider how the world might be different if these egregious errors had not occurred.
Losing a battle due to being outnumbered, outmatched, or suffering a random misfortune is not enough to be deemed a blunder. For a military defeat to qualify as a true blunder, it must:
involve a decision or action that common sense, training, or circumstance suggested was unwise, which dramatically altered the outcome for the worse;
involve someone who failed to take an obvious action; and/or
include an element of identifiable blame for the critical mistake.
In Historys Great Military Blunders and the Lessons They Teach, youll study these crucibles of history to gain a better understanding of why a civilization took-or didnt take-a particular path. Full of dramatic reversals of fortune, colorful characters, and unlikely triumphs, this course examines some of the worlds most notable examples of military misfortune, from the humiliating destruction of a Roman army at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 B.C. to the tragic landings at Gallipoli in World War I. Presented in a narrative yet thoroughly informative fashion by Gregory S. Aldrete, Frankenthal Professor of History and Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, these 24 lectures reveal how the trajectory of history hangs in the balance of individual battles. Success and failure, as youll learn, are two sides of the same coin.
With a scope that spans the globe, from ancient Greece through the Crusades through global conflicts during first half of the 20th century, this course features infamous conflicts such as the Charge of the Light Brigade and the Battle of Little Bighorn, as well as lesser-known battles you may find surprising.