Books: A Regiment of Blunderers

FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY by Charles Fair. 445 pages. Simon & Schuster. $8.95.

Almost anyone can write with a certain flair about battlefield heroes. Charles Fair, author of this delightfully eccentric volume, has chosen instead to commemorate the battlefield villain, the truly bad general who invariably manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

With more than 2,000 years of military stupidity to choose from, Fair, a Boston writer and amateur historian, has marshaled an impressive regiment of brilliant blunderers and incompetents.

There is, for a start, Russia's General Boris Sheremetev, who panicked...

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