Outnumbered by Cormac O’Brien

Almost everyone loves a story where people prevail against all odds. Cormac O’Brien explores this question as he explains how a military force that is facing a superior force either in numbers or guns shocked the world by winning an upset victory.   O’Brien goes beyond the generalship to look at the topography and weather conditions. He looks at the morale and sheer determination and will to win that makes the difference. Mr. O’Brien examines some of the best know battles in all of history as well as some that are lesser known. He examines 14 battles. They are viewed in chronological order dating from anywhere 480 B.C. up to 1942.

He gives us an excellent picture of each battle. It makes it all very clear and understandable. He shares the more interesting and sometimes quirky points of each battle. The book’s layout is spectacular. A generous supply of wonderful color pictures, illustrations and maps both illustrate and help explain the battles. It is as well packaged book as I have seen. The presentation matches the content – spectacular. There is a good bibliography of recent research on the battles.

The battles covered are: Salamis (480 BCE), Issus (333 BCE), Cannae (216 BCE), Carrhae (53 BC), Alesia (52 BCE), Tricamarum (533), Agincourt (1415), Narva (1700), Leuthen (1757), Auerstadt (1806), Chancellorsville (1863), Tannenberg (1914), and Singapore (1942). 

I am a US Civil War fan. The story of how Confederate General Robert E. Lee won a victory even though he was outnumbered more than two to one by Union forces at Chancellorsville, Virginia is one of my favorites.  I was enlightened by how the 35,000 poorly supplied Japanese got the 85,000 British troops to surrender at Singapore in 1942.

I had to remind myself that the focus was on being outnumbered, not on what were the most important battles in history.  Mr. O’Brien does an excellent job of giving an overview or survey of these battles.  The writing is wonderful.  Again, the presentation is as good as it gets.  This would be an excellent resource for any military history buff.  The quality of the work makes it an excellent resource for any public or school library.  Well done!

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