Outnumbered: Incredible Stories of History's Most Surprising Battlefield Upsets

Fair Winds Press
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DIVOutnumbered but not Outmatched./divHow did Hannibal’s 55,000 Carthaginians turn the tables on an 80,000-strong force of the ancient world’s most efficient military machine, the Roman army? What allowed 6,000 Englishmen to overcome 30,000 French at Agincourt in 1415? Which errors in judgment doomed a Russian army twice as large as its opposing German force at the Battle of Tannenberg during World War I?Author Cormac O’Brien’s powerful and vivid recreations of history’s most surprising military victories illuminate the cunning strategies, secret weapons, fateful decisions, and changes of fortune that turned the tide of battle in the most extraordinary and unanticipated ways: the risky Greek ruse that trapped the Persian Fleet at Salamis in 480 BCE; the snowstorm that helped a Swedish force destroy a Russian army four times its size at the Battle of Narva in 1700; the newly introduced firearm that enabled 150 British soldiers to hold off an attacking horde of 4,000 Zulus at Rorke’s Drift, Africa, in 1879.Even a commander as fearless, self-assured, and battle-hardened as Alexander the Great, leading 40,000 Macedonian troops, must have quailed at the sight that met him as he neared the village of Issus, Asia Minor, in 333 BCE: an unexpectedly and unimaginably vast Persian force of some 100,000 men, spanning the Mediterranean coastal plain as far as the eye could see. For warfare had already demonstrated, and has confirmed ever since, that numerical superiority consistently carries the day. And yet, every once in a while, such lopsided engagements have had an unexpected outcome, and proved to be a crucible in which great leaders, and history, are forged.Outnumbered chronicles fourteen momentous occasions on which a smaller, ostensibly weaker force prevailed in an epochal confrontation. Thus, Alexander, undaunted, devised a brilliant and daring plan that disoriented and destroyed the Persian force and, consequently, its empire. Likewise, during the U.S. Civil War, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, despite being outpositioned and outnumbered more than two to one by Union forces at Chancellorsville, Virginia, hatched an audacious and surprise strategy that caught his enemy completely unawares. Other equally unexpected, era-defining victories are shown to have derived from the devastating deployment of unusual weaponry, sheer good fortune, or even the gullibility of an enemy, as when Yamashita Tomoyuki, commander of 35,000 ill-supplied Japanese troops, convinced the 85,000-strong British Commonwealth army to surrender Singapore in 1942.Together these accounts constitute an enthralling survey that captures the excitement and terrors of battle, while highlighting the unpredictable nature of warfare and the courage and ingenuity of inspired, and inspiring, military leaders. A thrilling tour of the battlefields of history, replete with dramatic encounters, sudden twists of fate, and intriguing character studies, Outnumbered demonstrates that, even when the odds seem insurmountable, the path to glory can still be found.
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About the author

Cormac O’Brien is the author of The Forgotten History of America and Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents, among other books. He has been a featured speaker at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and a regular guest on National Public Radio. He lives in New Jersey.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Fair Winds Press
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Published on
May 1, 2010
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781616738433
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / World
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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On May 14-15, 1905, in the Tsushima Straits near Japan, an entire Russian fleet was annihilated, its ships sunk, scattered, or captured by the Japanese. In the deciding battle of the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese lost only three destroyers but the Russians lost twenty-two ships and thousands of sailors. It was the first modern naval battle, employing all the new technology of destruction. The old imperial navy was woefully unprepared. The defeat at Tsushima was the last and greatest of many indignities suffered by the Russian fleet, which had traveled halfway around the world to reach the battle, dogged every mile by bad luck and misadventure. Their legendary admiral, dubbed "Mad Dog," led them on an extraordinary eighteen-thousand-mile journey from the Baltic Sea, around Europe, Africa, and Asia, to the Sea of Japan. They were burdened by the Tsar's incompetent leadership and the old, slow ships that he insisted be included to bulk up the fleet. Moreover, they were under constant fear of attack, and there were no friendly ports to supply coal, food, and fresh water. The level of self-sufficiency attained by this navy was not seen again until the Second World War. The battle of Tsushima is among the top five naval battles in history, equal in scope and drama to those of Lepanto, Trafalgar, Jutland, and Midway, yet despite its importance it has been long neglected in the West. With a novelist's eye and a historian's authority, Constantine Pleshakov tells of the Russian squadron's long, difficult journey and fast, horrible defeat.
From the clash of bronze weapons on bronze armor to the fall of Rome, war often decided the course of ancient history. This volume is a practical introduction to the study of warfare in the ancient world, beginning with Egypt and Mesopotamia, and tracing the advances made in battle tactics, technology, and government over hundreds of years, culminating with developments in Greece and the Roman Empire. The chronological structure allows the reader to trace certain general themes down through the centuries: how various civilizations waged war; who served in the various armies and why; who the generals and officers were who made the decisions in the field; what type of government controlled these armies; and from what type of society they sprang. Major events and important individuals are discussed in their historical contexts, providing a complete understanding of underlying causes, and enabling readers to follow the evolution of ancient warfare as armies and empires became steadily larger and more sophisticated. Yet as Chrissanthos makes clear, history comes full circle during this period. Rome's collapse in 476 C.E. inaugurated an unforeseen dark age in which great armies were left decimated despite advanced technology that, while proving decisive in the outcome of many critical battles and stand-offs, had vanished amidst the Empire's crumbling walls.

In addition to the chronological treatment, Chrissanthos also includes sections on such important topics as chariot warfare, cavalry, naval warfare, elephants in battle, the face of battle, and such vital, but often-overlooked topics as the provisioning of the army with sufficient food and water. Eyewitness accounts are incorporated throughout each chapter, allowing the reader brief glimpses into the life and times of peasants and soldiers, generals and politicians, all of whom were dealing with war and its irreconcilable consequences from differing vantage points. Battle diagrams and maps are carefully placed throughout the text to help the reader visualize particular aspects of ancient warfare. The book also furnishes a detailed timeline and an extensive bibliography containing both modern and ancient sources.

Relive the Clashes that Shaped Colonial America Today Americans remember 1776 as the beginning of an era. A nation was born, commencing a story that continues to this day and that we ourselves are a part of. But the War of Independence also marked the end of another era—one in which many nations, Native American and European, had struggled for control of a vast and formidable wilderness. That saga, though separated from us now by a gulf of time that makes it seem strange and even alien, was the history out of which our own emerged. This book returns to that long-ago age, traveling through land that now forms part of the United States but that once knew a reality in which the clash between America’s first peoples and the newcomers from Europe was still new. Focusing on events that are all but forgotten today, author Cormac O’Brien’s masterful storytelling reveals how actors as diverse as Spanish conquistadores, Puritan ministers, Amerindian sachems, mercenary soldiers, and ordinary farmers traded and clashed across a landscape of constant, often violent, change—and how these dramatic moments, though largely lost to memory, helped to shape the very world around us. From the founding of the first permanent European settlement in North America (1565) to the bloody chaos of the British frontier in Pontiac’s War (1763), this vividly written narrative spans the two centuries of American history before the Revolutionary War. These lesser-known conflicts of the past are brought brilliantly to life, showing us a world of heroism, brutality, and tenacity—and also showing us how deep the roots of our own time truly run. Illustrated with more than 100 archival images.
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A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

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Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

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First made in the Fertile Crescent, beer became so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that by 3000 B.C.E. it was being used as currency. The main export of Ancient Greece's vast seaborne trade, wine helped spread its culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying men on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Originating in the Arab world, coffee stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. Hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it had far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Carbonated drinks, invented in 18th-century Europe and popularized in the 20th-century, are now a leading symbol of globalization, particularly Coca-Cola.

"Incisive, illuminating, and swift," (New York Times), A History of the World in 6 Glasses shows the intricate interplay of different civilizations in a fascinating new light. For Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again.
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