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Midget Ninja and Tactical Laxatives (ePub)

Bizarre warfare through the ages

Military P&S History > Reference

By Philip Sidnell
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 3.2 MB (.epub)
ISBN: 9781781595954
Published: 19th November 2012


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Which army used camels disguised as war elephants? Which illustrious warlord was killed by a midget ninja hidden in his latrine? How was a Japanese vessel sunk by live cows dropped by the Soviet air force? And just what kind of weapon was the Bohemian Ear Spoon? These are just a few of the important questions of military history answered in this book.

Midget Ninja and Tactical Laxatives is a light-hearted look at some of the most bizarre incidents, weirdest weapons and strangest stratagems to be found in the annals of warfare. Drawn from all periods of history there is something here for every reader with an interest in military history and/or a sense of humour.

Some of the sections included:
War Elephants and How to Stop Them (including the infamous blazing pigs)
Ignominious Deaths (eg the midget ninja in the latrine)
A Misplaced Sense of Honour (eg the sniper who let George Washington live)
Suicide Missions (eg mass suicide as a diversion tactic and a case of self-decapitation)
Weird and Wonderful Weapons: (such as the WW2 bat bomb -with real bats)
Stranger things happen at Sea (eg million-ton ice ships and death by blocked toilet)
God is on our side (of omens, oracles and the ancient battle stopped by a UFO)
An Army Marches on its Stomach (eg the tactical use of laxatives and the Greek army immobilized for 3 days by hallucinogenic honey)

… the tone is about right, with the right mix of amused surprise and clear explanation. There are also a set of useful footnotes that provide the original sources for most of the stories.
I must admit some of the incidents described were quite familiar to me (the many wounds of Alexander the Great or some of the more unusual ways in which warships sank themselves), but given that I spent most of my time reading a wide range of works on military history I was surprised just how many of the topics were entirely new to me.
There are plenty of interesting snippets in here, with enough variety to ensure that any familiar story is followed by something new and unfamiliar.

History of War

The author writes in an engaging, amusing, even ‘matey’ style, which suits the content, as if it were stories being exchanged in your local pub or down the wargames club. The chapters are divided into brief anecdotes, some barely more than a paragraph, a few page or two long. Sidnell’s expertise in the ancient era is clear and where he seems most comfortable, but he has managed to unearth plenty of unusual and extraordinary facts from the full breadth of military history, whether it be idiots who met uncomfortable ends, bonkers inventions, breathtaking incompetence or simply exploits that just leave you wondering what the participants must have been thinking.

Miniature Wargames

An irreverent look at some unusual stories and extremely odd tactics which have been employed in war from ancient times to the modern era. They range from the brilliant, albeit unusual, to the tragically misguided and the plain surreal. Included is the proposal to bomb Japanese cities using bats laden with incendiary devices, a plot to assassinate senior German officers using a juggler whose skittles were packed with explosives, the use of an enormous man-made iceberg as a floating airfield, and an attempt to commit suicide through poison by a man who had devoted much of his life to building up an immunity to poisons. This excellent book will certainly make an entertaining gift for anyone who has an interest in military history and a dry sense of humour.

Pegasus Archive, Mark Hickman

America planned to explore a nuclear bomb on the moon to scare Cold War rival Russia, according to newly released secret papers. But as a new book reveals, history is littered with madcap military moments. When the Germans invaded in 1941, the Russians enlisted their secret weapon – Nina The Juggler. The Moscow circus performer was ordered to entertain enemy troops – then lob her skittles, pre-packed with explosives, at them. It would have gone with a bang if the Nazis had not already been halted on the city’s outskirts.

The Sun, 29th November 2012
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About Philip Sidnell

Philip Sidnell has a First Class degree in War Studies and History from King's College London and was for some years the Editor of The Military and Aviation Book Society, Ancient and Medieval History Book Club and the History Guild.

He is now a commissioning editor for Pen & Sword Books, one of the UK's leading specialist publishers of military history. He edited Tribute: the Combat Experiences of the Military and Aviation Book Club, and wrote Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare.

A keen wargamer, he has a deep interest in all periods of military history but a special fondness for the ancient world. He lives and works in Kent.

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