History's Great Military Blunders and the Lessons They Teach : The Great Courses: Military

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Gregory S. Aldrete, PhD
  • Series: The Great Courses: Military
  • 12 hrs and 12 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Military history often highlights successes and suggests a sense of inevitability about victory, but there is so much that can be gleaned from considering failures. Study these crucibles of history to gain a better understanding of why a civilization took - or didn't take - a particular path. Full of dramatic reversals of fortune and colorful characters, this course examines some of the world's most notable examples of military misfortune, from the humiliating destruction of a Roman army at Carrhae in 53 BC to the tragic landings at Gallipoli in World War I. Success and failure, as you'll learn, are two sides of the same coin.
These 24 lectures reveal how the trajectory of history hangs in the balance of individual battles; even a single person's actions in a particular moment have made drastic and irreversible impacts. From ancient Greece through global war during the first half of the 20th century, you'll delve into infamous conflicts such as the Charge of the Light Brigade and the Battle of Little Bighorn as well as lesser-known battles.
How could an army equipped with cannon be wiped out by Zulu warriors wielding spears and outdated firearms? How could armored French knights be vulnerable to the crude weapons of a band of Flemish shopkeepers? Why would a savvy Chinese general fall victim to a tactic he had previously used himself? Unpredictable twists of fate abound, demonstrating that when it comes to war, there are no givens. Sheer numbers, superior weaponry, and skilled leadership are never a guarantee of success.
Take a fascinating journey through some of the most gloriously inglorious wartime encounters. Along the way, you'll get to know some of the most legendary characters in world history.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Martial Chaos

I'm a military history buff and a US Army veteran, so I really couldn't have asked for a more apt "The Great Courses" lecture series. It's thing to read a translation of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" (approximately 5th century BCE), an aspirational guide to tactical warfare that's travelled the millennia well. It's quite anther to fearlessly examine some of the most painful military debacles in history and take meaning from what's written in blood . "History's Great Military Blunders and the Lessons They Teach" (Gregory S. Aldrete, PhD) is a neat survey course of things that have gone militarily very, very, wrong for more than two millennia.

The lectures range from The Battles of Syracuse (415-414 BC) to World War II's Operation Market Garden (1944). Some are obvious, often repeated errors. Napoleon's 1812 winter invasion of Russia was about as successful as Charles XII of Sweden's 1707 invasion of the same country. The 1854 storied, tragic Charge of the Light Brigade is about attacking the wrong target. Some of the disasters of World War II were almost too painful to listen to. I remember hearing war stories first-hand from veterans in my grandparents' small town, and to know that sometimes their sacrifices were wasted hurts.

I like that the lectures aren't Eurocentric - one of the best is on the 2nd Century Red Cliffs Campaign of the brilliant but merciless Chinese General Cao Cao. Even the strongest of tyrants don't always prevail. I got a kick out of the lecture on 1879 Isandlwana: 25,000 Zulus, Undetected. It was horrifying to Victorian England, especially the post-battle mutilation (actually, a sign of respect: the Zulu Warriors were releasing the spirits of the slain soldiers), but a century and a half later, it's a study in absolute arrogance and the triumph of what must have been derided then as "savages."

I would definitely listen to another one of Professor Aldrete's courses.

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- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""

Awesome as Aldrete's usual !!!

After listening to "Decisive battles" from the same author, I knew I had to listen to this title as well.

If you want to learn college-level history, With the ease of just curling up with a good book that is beautifully narrated this is the course for you.
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- Michael

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-25-2015
  • Publisher: The Great Courses