The first section of Great Military Diasters is devoted to a wide-ranging survey of the three different levels--politics, planning and command--that if not properly executed or considered can and often do lead to disaster. In all three areas he cites fascinating and at times horrifying examples of incompetence from the earliest times to the present to illuminate his insights. Hitler's failure to enlist the support of the national minorities in the Soviet Union against Stalin cost the Germans victory in the East. During the American Revolution, the British stubbornly kept their red-coated troops in squares. They could not have made more inviting targets. And it is hard to believe that the Battle of the Somme was even considered, much less fought. The second section contains more detailed studies of individual battles and campaigns to show the calamitous effects of military incompetence. The rigid and foolish regulations of the British commissariat caused thousands to freeze to death or to die of malnutrition in the Crimea. The petty squabbling and failure of nerve among Grant's commanders at the Battle of the Crater turned a brilliant engineering feat that could have ended the Civil War into a scandalous slaughter of the Union Forces. Characterized by political confusion and indecisiveness, the Suez Operation of 1956 "began in chaos and ended in fiasco."