BOOK REVIEW: Prelude to the First World War, the Balkan Wars 1912-1913 by E. R. Hooton
Hooton explores the complexities of the two Balkan Wars with a surgical analysis–two important, little known, wars that were the prelude to the Great War in 1914. He earns a sincere congratulation for his in depth research. His statistics are overwhelming–so overwhelming that the reader is inundated with details that after a time becloud the mind and have no meaning. The tide of these wars is lost in trivia. I’m not sure what I’ve read. The reader would be better served if Hooton had assembled all these myriad details into tables and incorporated them in Appendices. Then he could have focused his manuscript on the broad picture of these important wars.
At times, his syntax is muddled, he uses the passive voice too often, and I noticed a number of punctuation errors.
By far, however, Hooton’s most serious failure is to provide relevant maps. He does offer maps of various battles. Nonetheless, they are, on the whole, useless.
- Missing is an overall, large-scale map of the Balkans so that the reader can set the perspective.
- Missing are medium-scale maps that show larger scale areas and battle areas.
- His small-scale maps pretend to show the details of various battles. Alas! They do not. Rather they have no cache. They are void of understandable of detail. We cannot fathom who did what to whom, where.
- Often, the lettering is so miniscule that one needs a magnifying glass to read it.
- No North Arrows.
- No Legends to explain the symbols
- No delineation between water and land that’s discernable.
- Key points in the text are not noted (seen) on some maps.
- Oftentimes he mentions a population center or a geographical feature in the text but he does not have it plotted on his map.
- Frequently maps are on one page and the battle details are somewhere else.
This book is best used as a reference publication for the aficionados —not one to be read front to back.