From the wooden horse of Troy to the Gulf War, military history has been as much marked by chance and error, as by gallantry and heroism. Many conflicts have been decided by the caprice of weather, bad intelligence, heroism where it wasn't expected, or individual incompetence. In military terms, the incident that can swing a battle from victory to defeat in a moment is known as the Hinge Factor.
THE HINGE FACTOR vividly describes battles which demonstrate this phenomenon - including the circumstances behind the loss of the Holy Cross, through to the attack of African war bees in 1914, to Star Wars weaponry described in the Gulf War. This enthralling book demystifies the general belief that battles are always won due to the brilliance of a general and will both inform and entertain a wide audience.
What decides victory in battle? Superiority--in numbers, leadership, strategy or fighting ability--is certainly a factor. Military historian and war correspondent Durschmied, who lives in France, reminds us that chance--known in military terms as the Hinge Factor--can also play a decisive role. In this fast-paced study, Durschmied (Don't Shoot the Yanqui, etc.) analyzes battles both famous and obscure, showing how chance has enabled inferior armies to defeat superior opponents, thus changing the course of history. Serious readers will approach some chapters with tongue firmly in cheek. Few might accept, for example, that a slap on the face set in motion events that brought on the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia or that a parcel containing three cigars extended the American Civil War for four years. Other episodes are more plausible. Durschmied makes a good case that a swarm of angry bees decided the outcome of a key battle between British and German forces in German East Africa in 1914. Similarly, he shows how weather, which has bedeviled field commanders throughout the ages, played a decisive role in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The author concludes each chapter with a series of provocative questions designed to draw armchair strategists into a spirited game of What-if? More entertaining than scholarly, this will nevertheless please military buffs. Maps. .