The fatal victory is a battlefield success which costs the victor the war. It is often a brilliant, smashing success, such as Hannibal's triumph at Cannae, celebrated for two millennia as the absolute masterpiece of military tactics. But as a victory it was fatal. Hannibal mistook the battle for the war, and as a result, Carthage was destroyed, utterly. The fatal victory is not a Pyrrhic victory, a tactical success where the 'winner' loses by exhausting himself. Manifestly not Pyrrhic was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A triumph of conception, planning, and execution, it was achieved at virtually no cost. But it was fatal to Japan because tactics were based on xenophobic and racist assumptions. The enemy did not collapse, but fought back, incinerating the home islands. The fatal victory is one where battlefield success is achieved by an unwitting sacrifice of grand strategy or even war policy, and it has taken many forms over the years. Mr. Weir examines fourteen such episodes, from Cannae to Vietnam. From classical conflicts to the protracted wars of religion, to the world wars which began with Louis XIV and lasted until 1815, to, finally, the modern era with its civil wars, popular uprisings, and global conflicts, he shows which victories were fatal and why. An exciting storyteller as well as a thoughtful analyst, Mr. Weir invites readers to re-think the relationships of military tactics, strategy, and policy, in some of the world's greatest conflicts.