by Rob Johnson
London/New York: Thames & Hudson, 2011. Pp. viii, 208.
Illus., maps, biblio, index. $27.95. ISBN: 0500251878
Former British officer and Oxford lecturer Johnson gives us a score of desperate fights against great odds from Virginia in 1781 through Afghanistan in 2008.
Although necessarily omitting many details, each of the actions is well told, opening with an outline of the strategic setting, a quick look at the tactical situation, some comment on the forces involved, and then the fight. Naturally, in a work such as this the choices may not satisfy some. Johnson has mostly selected actions involving British or American forces, with a sprinkling of others; Bolivar in Liberation of the Andean nations, the Greek war for independence, the French at Camerone, the Boers, Warsaw 1920, the Russo-Finnish Winter War, and Stalingrad. Thus, some readers will be somewhat familiar with most of the actions. Some of the choices are curious (why Washington at Yorktown, when Trenton was against greater odds and far more daring?) and some of the actions are not “battles” at all but campaigns and even protracted wars.
Despite these criticisms, Outnumbered, Outgunned, Undeterred is a good read, and useful as an introduction to the actions covered for those new to the serious study of military history.