By Rob Johnson
Thames & Hudson, $27.95, 208 pages
Get parachuted into the thick of desperate combat and expect to fight for your life. Rob Johnson, in his book Outnumbered, Outgunned, Undeterred, sucks the reader into the heart-pounding action of twenty battles fought by an outnumbered, outgunned yet wholly undeterred force of men (and the occasional women) with intense, detailed prose. From the American Revolution to the war in Afghanistan, Johnson, a former officer in the British Army, depicts soldiers caught in seemingly untenable military situations. While the circumstances surrounding each battle are wildly different, and some end in victory, others in devastation, all the soldiers show a courageousness, tenacity and sense of duty that is incredible. The book is surprisingly moving despite the unsentimental and factual tone and within the first few lines of each chapter, unabashed cheering for the featured corps is predictable. Replete with military terms for army divisions, armaments, formations and tactics, a briefing in the martial vernacular would be helpful. Little-known battles (i.e. the French Foreign Legion at the Battle of Camerone) are included alongside more celebrated ones (i.e. Stalingrad, World War II), prompting wonder at how such exciting history could possibly be left out of the average school curriculum.
Reviewed by Andrea Klein