This is an engaging and authoritative account of the battles that changed the face of history. What makes a battle decisive? Jonathon Riley draws on his personal experience as a soldier and historian to explore the definitive battles of the modern era from Yorktown in 1781 to Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Each battle included is a turning point, the outcome of which has changed the face of history. The battles at Ligny, Quatre Bras and Waterloo in 1815 concluded more than twenty years of war with Revolutionary and Napoleonic France and instituted alliances that dominated Europe until 1860. The Ardennes in 1944 was decisive because Hitler threw away the last army he had which could have stalled the Allied advance into Germany. The war ended less than five months later. Dien Bien Phu confirmed the collapse of French colonial power in Indo-China, and paved the way for US involvement in Vietnam to stem the tide of Communist expansion. Since Operation Desert Storm no battle can be said to have been decisively concluded and the closing chapter looks to 21st century emergencies where opponents abandon conventional conflict.
Lieutenant General Jonathon Riley joined the British Army in 1973 and has served peacetime tours of duty in the US, Germany, Kenya and Cyprus. He taught at Sandhurst from 1984-86. He has a number of published works including several military histories and three studies of command including Napoleon and the World War 1813. He was made a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in the New Year's Honours 2008.
1. Introduction - What is a decisive battle?; 2. Yorktown 1781; 3. Ligny, Quatre Bras and Waterloo; 4. Gettysburg and Vicksburg 1863; 5. Sedan 1870; 6. The Third Battle of Gaza 1917; 7. Amiens 1918; 8. The Arakhan, Inphal and Kohima 1944; 9. Ardennes - the Battle of the Bulge; 10. Dien Bien Phu; 11. Kuwait 1991 - Operation Desert Storm; 12. Conclusion - the 21st Century.