“Tiny Blunders/ Big Disasters” Sample

Posted: August 19, 2012 in Tiny Blunders / Big Disasters Preview


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                                                           TINY BLUNDERS / BIG DISASTERS

                                             TWENTY-NINE  TINY MISTAKES THAT CHANGED

                                                                  THE WORLD FOREVER

In 1968, George Romney, governor of the state of Michigan, presidential candidate and father of Mitt Romney spoke before the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida. He was in a desperate but losing battle to try and wrest the nomination away from the unstoppable, but star-crossed Richard Milhous Nixon.

Speaking to the delegates on that hot night in August, he knew that his chances were fading into a sad obscurity. There was little hope of winning the party’s nomination. And like his son many years later, failure and disappointment were to be the final stamp of his presidential campaign. His aspirations to serve the nation as the leader of the Free World lay in ruins. The governor’s many accomplishments and even his career were not destined to be long remembered, but in that mostly forgotten speech, he passed along a silver splinter of wisdom, which has taken its place among the ages.

His point was to underscore the importance of critical details in the outcome of major events. To do so he used an old adage, which has been passed down from father to son and mother to daughter for many generations and goes as follows:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost

For want of a horse the rider was lost

The rider, the battle, the battle the empire

The empire was lost, all for the want of a nail.

Inspired by Shakespeare the old proverb sounded like something your Sunday School teacher might wave before the class at Vacation Bible school. Or a hoary piece of advice your grandfather would entertain the family with around the kitchen table, mixed in with talk of baseball and the cost of fertilizer. But never the less, in its singsong phrases there was the ring of an undeniable and well-grounded principle.

Because, you see, it is astonishing to realize how often great enterprises, kingdoms and international campaigns have had their purpose crushed and their cause denied by the slightest misconstruction at the hands of human fallibility. – A world destroyed by a single, tiny blunder.  The wobble of a poorly thrown die as it hits the green felt on the table of fate.

If we stand before the giant record of human history and ask the question, how often have tiny mistakes made an enormous difference in the outcome of major events?  A number of peculiar examples begin to rise to the surface.

Like men whose names have finally been called. They stand up in the great hall of world history, march by rows and rows of more dignified events and take their place at the top of dais in order to be recognized. These strange, quirky events are the tiny hinges that have turned the great doors of human destiny.

Because these blunders were made by critical people at key moments in history, each one of them has twisted history in a different direction. They are like a series of giant train wrecks with devastating and far-reaching results, all of it completely unforeseen.

When each is summarized into a single, pithy, stand-alone sentence they seem impossible to believe and make no sense to the reasonable observer. For example: How could a single piece of tape turned several inches the wrong direction have changed the outcome of the Viet Nam War? How is it that the United States and its allies might very well have won the war except for this single, tiny, bewildering blunder? Perplexing and confusing it does not resolve itself to reasonable analysis. It sounds fatuous. Yet when the complete mosaic is fully in place it does indeed make sense. And the resulting picture is deadly, undeniable and filled with human heartache

Turning to another example from this baffling and unnerving catalog of human bungling we come to the following question: How could a single, low ranking, lustful, whore-mongering Japanese soldier have accidently started World War II in the East.  One private soldier triggering one giant war.  Mind boggling, unbelievable but incredibly true.

A further sampling from this list of the bizarre brings us to the following interrogatory:

  1. How could a single navigational mistake by two aviators over Great Britain have changed the outcome of World War II.  It is hard for the human mind to accept such a monstrous and puzzling concept. It is more horrifying than any nightmare. But, the forces of darkness might very well have prevailed, except for this small, solitary blooper in a dark night over a blacked  out London.
  2. Now turning to an entry from the Texas frontier of 1836. If someone had remembered or decided to tie up the oxen on one particular night, there is a serious chance that the Alamo would never have fallen.  Poor planning and  indecision by a top commander led to the waste of human life and a lost opportunity for military success..
  3. Spinning the wheel of fate back to World War II we come across the following intrigue:  How is it possible that the failure of a small mechanical devise, only several inches long could also have changed the outcome of World War II? How could this have led to the ending of the war two years earlier, saved the lives of millions of people and led to much larger boundaries for Germany today.
  4. Now turning to the salacious : A president of the United States had an affair with two separate beautiful German spies at two separate times during his life, both of which nearly destroyed his presidency.  Self-indulgence taking priority over common sense. John Edwards is not alone in this weakness. How many times has that happened? Based on the headlines of the last several years the answer is fairly often.
  5. Still another narrative from the 1800’s answers to the following, very curious description: A man who was the supreme leader of a nation was also commanding a large army in the field and facing a dangerous enemy. However, when the expected attack from the enemy came he was in his tent high on opium, cavorting with a beautiful young slave woman. The resulting defeat led to the founding of a new nation. A famous song was later written about the beautiful young woman. This story is about one of the biggest upset victories in American history. It is tantalizing, astonishing and amazingly true.

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The poets offer us insight on the special subject of painful mistakes and the resulting human agony.  The plow of Robert Burns broke thru the nest of a field mouse on his farm, turning the quivering creature out into the cold of the Scottish winter. He then observed:

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

And leave us nothing but grief and pain, for all the

promised joy.”

As the reader will see, many of the plans that make up our discussion were indeed well laid, many were the product of faulty thinking and some were downright sloppy.

In this review a wide net has been thrown over the historical record of the blunders  foibles and missteps of the human experience. Captured in this wide net like so many tuna wriggling on the deck of a giant trawler are sins of commission as well as omission. One example from the latter category goes as follows: A single phone call that should have been made in 1944 but which was not made, determined who would be President of the United States in 1960 and 1964.   The American right hand and the British left hand did not always know what the other was doing.

Each of the items summarized is a conundrum wrapped in a paradox. Each one of them is a puzzle tickled by a tease. The list below gathers together a large amount of information covering numerous and ponderous events taking place over many years. It then summarizes them into twenty nine units of compression: It is a catalogue of hard, black darts with the events reduced to their essence – a collection of simple, pithy stories of things gone wrong.

Each one tells the tale of poor, sad people who slid off the edge of the cliff due to some small, goofy mistake or bumbling miscalculation.  Each one is a steely, rigid, irreducible point: startling and irrefutable, facts that stab right to the heart of the people involved. Each one is a punch in the gut.

The individuals themselves are like bugs stuck on a pin and attached to a piece of cardboard. So often they are struggling, helpless and hopelessly doomed. They are the martyrs of their own mismanagement. With all of this in mind, we now walk into a house of mirrors, where history is turned on its head and the small becomes big and the big is  reduced to smoldering rubble:


In order to understand this bizarre tale, it is first necessary to place ourselves in the mind of Richard Milhous Nixon in the early 1960s. No easy task. Nixon was—as described by his own chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman—our “weirdest president.” And, by all accounts, he was no less weird before he was elected.

When it comes to understanding Nixon, psychology is only partially helpful. Experts say it is men who are greatly adored by their mothers who often rise to great achievements. Examples include Frank Sinatra, Lyndon Johnson and Poncho Villa. Nixon’s relationship with his mother was icy. She didn’t even like him as a friend. Nothing personal. She was that way.

“I never heard my mother say ‘I love you’ to anyone,” Nixon recalled. Experts say unloved children grow up to become insecure or hostile. Nixon became both.

Henry Kissinger was National Security Advisor and Secretary of State for the Nixon Administration and found much in Nixon worthy of his admiration. Kissinger observed ”Can you imagine what this man could have been had somebody loved him? Had somebody in his life cared for him? I don’t think anybody ever did, not his parents, not his peers. He would have been a great, great man had somebody loved him.”

The man who knew Nixon best was his psychoanalyst of 40 years, Dr. Arnold A. Hatschnecker. After Nixon died, the doctor revealed his true impression of his famous patient: “He was an emotionally deprived child,” crippled by neuroses, and grew to regard love and physical closeness as a diversion that would drain, deplete, and emasculate him. He felt he needn’t be “loved as a human being, only respected as a man.”

A shy individual in the extroverted world of Washington politics, Nixon habitually sheltered himself from true social interaction, and so dealt with the strain of interpersonal conflict and intense media scrutiny by hiding behind a mask of formality. Nixon’s eccentricities set him apart from other people, however, in spite of his foibles, many people could identify with his intense pride in his early successes and the personal pain of his celebrated downfall. If Nixon’s life were plotted on a chart it would show many jagged angles careening up and down between success and disappointment. Few people have led lives of such extreme variability.

Elected first as a representative and then senator from his home state of California, many people in those early years recognized his potential for higher office. Local observers witnessed in the young Nixon his fanatical drive, his keen mind and his addiction to national politics. It was said by some, even then, that the young lawyer who was raised above a gas station had potential for national office.

As a junior senator, newly arrived in Washington, Nixon distinguished himself in the communist witch-hunts of the late 1940s and early ’50s. His aggressive pursuit of alleged fellow travelers and outright communists in the State Department—most notably the Alger Hiss case—propelled him to national prominence. A favorite of the far right because of his headline grabbing success, he was selected by the GOP as General Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate in the 1952 presidential election. With the war hero as its standard bearer, the Republican ticket swept into office on the wave of undeniable mandate.

“Ah, but there was trouble in paradise. Nixon and Ike didn’t get along. Never had. “How can a man go through life with so few close friends? Eisenhower wondered. In private he referred to Nixon as “a G__ D__ loser.”

We don’t know exactly what was behind Eisenhower’s festering antipathy towards Nixon. A number of biographers have blamed it on nothing more than bad chemistry. However, in his book The Dark Side of Camelot, Seymour M. Hersh provides the written record with another more sinister possibility. Simply put: Nixon took a $ 100,000 bribe and Eisenhower found out about it.

The money was from a wealthy Romanian industrialist named Nicolae Malaxa. He was an oddity, an Eastern European tycoon from a communist country living in the United States. He wished to remain in California and enjoy his great wealth but the Immigration and Naturalization Service was doing its best to deport him. Mr. Malaxa appears to have been a practical man and does not seem to have been inhibited by any philosophical or moral constraints such as conscience or a sense of decency. Money was used to ingratiate himself with whichever side of a political conflict he thought was going to prevail. He had been a financial supporter of the pro-Nazi Iron Guard in Romania during World War II. This paramilitary force was responsible for a viciously sadistic pogrom that killed an estimated 7,000 jews in Bucharest in 1941. After the war he had turned coat and served the communist regime so well that they allowed him to keep 2.4 million dollars of his personal funds which had been seized by the government. It can be imagined that financial considerations were a factor in producing this kind of uncharacteristic leniency on the part of an Iron Curtain country.

In 1952 Nixon had introduced a bill in the Senate granting Maxala the right to remain in the U.S. However, the bill was blocked by the House Judiciary Committee chairman, democrat Emanuel Sellers because he saw” something rather suspicious” about the entire arrangement.

Never-the-less in 1952 Nixon had been given a check from Malaxa for $100,000 which he had deposited in the Bank of California. The C.I.A. had a photocopy of the check. The potentially explosive story dripping with corruption had been passed on to General Eisenhower. The general wanted to eliminate this source of trouble and potential embarrassment from the ticket but timing made this option impractical.

The Malaxa story remained in the back ground and was never exposed to public scrutiny in Nixon’s lifetime. But Nixon had another “lesser” scandal which was being dramatically exploited by the members of the fourth estate.  He was accused of benefiting from an eighteen thousand dollar “slush fund” which had been established by seventysix California businessmen. They had donated the funds to benefit the young senator’s career. The controversy erupted onto the national stage in the summer of the election year and was threatening the Republican party’s chances of success in November as well as Nixon’s political career.

But Nixon, for all his personal contradictions, was a man of great internal resources. At the height of the controversy – just when he needed it the most – he was able to deliver one of the most effective oratories in American political history. In a one half hour television address delivered on September 23rd, 1952 Nixon defended himself against the charges. He denied that any of the money was spent for personal use. His wife Patricia did not have a mink coat but “a respectable Republican cloth coat.” He confessed that the family had received a gift “a little Cocker Spaniel-and our little girl –Tricia , the six year old –named it Checkers” He then said “ the kids love the dog and we are going to kept it.”  The “Checkers Speech” was a national sensation and created a great outpouring of support for a man who had been at the edge of being fired in disgrace.

In the face of this huge, public groundswell and against his personal inclination to do otherwise, Eisenhower allowed the young senator to remain on the ticket. Richard Milhouse Nixon had dogged a bullet and came out of the storm stronger and bolder than ever before.

In 1956 the general again wished to replace the thorn in his side with another candidate. But his choice for the post would not accept unless Nixon stepped down voluntarily. Nixon would not step down – unless he was pushed – and therefore kept his job, but just barely.

Despite Ike’s hostility, Nixon was chosen as the Republican nominee for the presidency in 1960, and was defeated by John F. Kennedy by a whisker. The election was brazenly stolen by the wealth and power of the Kennedy machine. John Kennedy, with brother Robert as his number-one advisor, was a terrifying combination of charisma, charm, and political ruthlessness. The Kennedys believed their administration would be far superior to that of the dark and brooding “Tricky Dick” Nixon, and so felt the end justified the means. They embezzled the American presidency without shame, guilt or apparent hesitation. The Kennedys, it was said, made their own luck.

Technically, the election was stolen in the City of Chicago, with special thanks going to head mobster Sam Giancana. The mayor of Chicago, Richard Dailey, provided cover while an army of Mafioso rigged the election. The fix was in early and put in place by the muscle and money of the men who ran the streets. In order to achieve this the Kennedys promised hands off the mob once in power. (They later reneged on their deal, but that is another story altogether.)

A thousand miles away, at the same time but at the other end of the map, another act of vote thievery went down, just as important as the first, though the venue was more hardscrabble and the circumstances humble. In south Texas, where it looks more like Mexico than the U.S., dead people were allowed to vote, sometimes several times. This operation was run by Frank Pharr, the corrupt and powerful patron of the feudal barony at the southernmost tip of Texas. His get-out-the-vote effort was a marvel of effectiveness, reaching beyond the grave and into the next world to find the necessary ballots to secure the election. In some of the counties in south Texas in 1960, more folks voted Kennedy/Johnson than there were folks.

The point is, the 1960 presidential election was decided by two notorious hoodlums, both with murder on their resumes. John Kennedy, the future U.S. President, and his powerful family had made their Faustian bargain for the White House itself. The family’s destiny with karma is well documented.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called Nixon on election night to inform him that he had evidence of massive vote stealing in Illinois and Texas. In spite of the obvious heist, Nixon was uncharacteristically gracious in bowing out of the contest. He disregarded the cries of foul from his supporters and quietly accepted the narrow defeat.

Always known as a tough and even fanatical competitor, Nixon’s acquiescence surprised many observers. In fact, he conceded without a purl of protest. His gentlemanly decision was based on two factors: 1) a recount would have taken months and paralyzed the nation; and 2) It would have globally damaged the image of democracy in the face of the communist challenge. Nixon was doing what he believed to be the wise and noble thing for the nation and the world.

Nixon’s next career step was to run for governor of California in 1962, but he was defeated by the Democratic incumbent, Pat Brown—a stunning loss. His response to defeat this time was not so elegant. He got drunk and told a room of reporters that they were “not going to have Dick Nixon to kick around any more.”

Everyone seemed to agree that Nixon was done for. But everyone was wrong. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Nixon made a surprising comeback. He reorganized his persona to be more mellow and likable. He swore off hard liquor. He showed himself to be a man of true presidential timber and won the nomination and the election in 1968 and ran again for re-election in 1972.

The key thing to remember from this profile, before going on with our story, is that hard lessons had been learned from the acrid defeats. These were the lessons that Nixon carried inside of him and that shaped his campaign and his presidency. And the lessons were this: leave nothing to chance and take nothing for granted when running for office. Having twice snatched defeat from certain victory, Nixon was determined that it would never happen again. Never again—whatever the cost.

Nixon ran for re-election in 1972 against the democratic nominee Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota. Nixon had once lost an election because he didn’t control the streets. Well, Dick Nixon did control the streets now and he was never going to lose another election. A little political espionage was in order.

The Republican National Committee (RNC), under the direction of John Mitchell, was eager to learn more about the Democratic Party’s plans for the on-going campaign. Republican operatives, mostly politically conservative Cubans, were recruited and trained to burglarize the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in the Watergate Hotel, an office complex in downtown Washington D.C.

The daring and dangerous plan was to break into the offices of the campaign chairman at night, steal politically useful information, and exit the building without being caught. The burglars and their handlers were professional and cunning. They realized that a mishap of one kind or another could possibly occur. A security plan was in place to prevent detection. Alert lookouts were positioned on the roof with walkie-talkies. If any police cars were seen approaching the building, the lookouts would radio their confederates in ample time to escape. There was no reason to think something would go wrong. And nothing would have, except for a single tiny unexpected stumble.

In order to gain access to the Watergate’s main building, the burglars picked the lock between the garage and the adjoining staircase. To keep the door from relocking they had been told to place a piece of tape in a vertical position across the door edge. But instead they placed it in a horizontal across the door face. In this position, the tape was visible to anyone walking by the doorway inside the building. The night watchman, Frank Wills, in making his normal rounds, noticed the strip of tape and saw that the door had been jimmied. Wills grabbed the nearest telephone and called the police. No uniform cops were available, so the Washington police sent an undercover squad, “The Bum Patrol”, cops dressed as vagrants. When the unmarked car pulled up to the Watergate complex the lookouts on the roof failed to recognize the disheveled officers.

And so cops who resembled freight-car hoboes apprehended burglars dressed in business attire.

The ensuing investigation tied the burglars to mid-level people in the Republican campaign, who were in turn linked to high-level people in the Nixon Administration. There was a Senate probe by the Judiciary Committee with public hearings and enormous publicity. A desperate cover-up was attempted and failed. In the final analysis, it was the cover up, with its charges of obstruction of justice and misprision of a felony that destroyed the Nixon Administration. Facing certain impeachment from a democratic congress, Richard Nixon was forced to resign. He left the White House and flew back to his home state of California in humiliation and disgrace.

All of this was triggered by the single piece of tape, one tiny glitch set the cascading events of Watergate in motion like dominoes, a chain reaction that led to the presidency and from there to Vietnam, where it has impacted the generations that followed.

In 1971–72 the U.S. bombed North Vietnam into submission. More explosive ordnance was dropped on the tiny nation of North Vietnam than all of the firepower of World War II combined, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki. North Vietnam became a nightmare of fire and brimstone, a napalm-drenched manifestation of massive technology turned into vengeful god. The North Vietnamese signed the Paris Peace Agreement. Presidential Security Advisor Henry Kissinger hammered out the settlement in Paris. The treaty was designed to halt the Vietnam War in a fashion in which everyone saved face. North Vietnam signed and the bombing stopped—but many waxed skeptical of the North Vietnamese intensions in acquiescing to the treaty. Nixon fully expected the reluctant North to violate the treaty at the first opportunity. There would be a short cooling off period and then the attacks on the South would begin all over again. Additional bombing, intense in nature, would then be necessary to bring the small but stubborn nation of only twenty million people back into reluctant compliance.

But the bombing never came.

Kissinger and Nixon had been following a “Mad Man in Control” strategy, projecting to the enemy an image of the president as a fanatical zealot eager to bomb his enemies into total oblivion. Nixon’s critics might have suggested that this was a case of art imitating life.  But it didn’t last. Nixon’s paranoia led to self-destruction, Watergate rendered his administration weak and unpopular, and by 1974 Congress was no longer even willing to resupply the South Vietnamese with ammunition.

Saigon fell.



Following his narrow defeat in the 1960 election, Nixon had choices to make. He needed to earn a living and was not quite sure what path to take. He wanted to serve in public office and uphold the public trust. He once said that without work in public service he would be emotionally dead in several months, physically dead within a year. Motivated by noble craving and driving ambition, he decided to run for governor of California in 1962. His home state had elected him senator—surely he could be governor!

However, during the campaign, the press hammered Nixon.  Te election results were shocking and unexpected, the former Vice President was defeated by the Democratic incumbent, Pat Brown. Nixon was stunned, and consumed by the kind of agony that tears at the intestines. His life had taken a tremendous plummet: VP, almost president…to political has-been. This latest defeat was excruciating, an ultimate vanquishing of the spirit.

To make matters worse, this fallen and suffering man chose this moment to visit an old demon. Nixon turned to the bottle. Late into the night of the big defeat Nixon deluged upon his sorrows with strong drink until they were good and drowned. The next morning he was being escorted from his hotel room by campaign aides.  Now both depressed and hungover, Nixon sulked himself into a deep and exasperated funk.

Vigilant and protective, his loyal staff tried to protect him from the predatory members of the press. No reporters now, please God, the boss was a mess.

However, while walking down a hotel hallway past a large ballroom, Nixon got wind of an international press conference gathered for post-election comments, and his brain snapped and crackled with an idea. He’d give them a comment. Dick Nixon was always good with a quote.

Without warning, and to his aides’ dismay, he turned abruptly and walked into the reporter-filled ballroom. He strode up to the microphones.

Never his friend, the surprised and delighted reporters posed with ink-stained talons drawn, eager.

From his perspective, Nixon was facing reptilian adversaries, the enemy, the reason he had lost the election. And thus, his comments to those gathered before him were resentful and acrimonious. Already in the stew, he didn’t know when to stop. He dove in deeper, deeeep into the political abyss. He had a special announcement.  He was quitting politics for good.

He said: “You’re not going to have Dick Nixon to kick around any more.”

These hot bitter words shot around the world in minutes.

His apparent purpose was to chastise the scoundrels who had hounded and bedeviled his campaigns. Instead he made a fool of himself in front of millions of people.

What every one saw was a stubble-faced, hungover (or possibly still drunk) loser. It would seem that the high-lying career of Richard Milhous Nixon was over. It had tumbled from the sky and hit the face of the Earth in a final, spectacular splat. No politician could survive such a cataclysmic series of events. Everyone agreed, Nixon was done for.






  1. 1.    A Single Piece of Tape Rotated Several Inches in the Wrong Direction Changed the Outcome of the Viet Nam War.




  1. P.T.109 Incident. A series of small mistakes with grave and far-

reaching implications. It began with running away from a beautiful, German spy.

  1. 3.    The Phone Call That Was Never Made: Joseph Kennedy Jr.’s     

Unnecessary Death. The British right hand and the American left hand did not always know what the other was doing

  1. Impeachment Narrowly Missed.  A President’s involvement with another beautiful German spy led to a near scandal.  J. Edger Hoover saved the day. But at what price?




  1. One Giant War, One Tiny Mistake. The horny Japanese soldier who started a war. World War II in the East was accidently started by a single low-ranking, lustful Japanese soldier.
  1. 6.    World War I and Indirectly World War II Were “Accidentally” Started When a Chauffeur Took a Wrong Turn in Front of Schiller’s Delicatessen in Sarajevo.
  1. “Kick in the Rotten Door.” The Russians’ “failure” to kowtow angered Hitler and led to the emotional decision to invade Russia.
  1. 8.    The Mistranslation of a Single Word in a Communication Between the United States and Japan Led to a Misunderstanding, Which Led to War in the Pacific.

TINY MISTAKES THAT CHANGED THE OUTCOME OF                                                                          

                                             MAJOR WARS

  1. 9.    If Someone Had Though To Tie Up the Oxen On One Particular


Night the Alamo Might Not Have Fallen. A key commander’s

mistakes and hesitation.

10. A Cavorting General Loses the Battle, the War, and the Country. When the expected attack came, he was in his tent high on opium cavorting with a beautiful young slave woman.

11. A Navigational Mistake over Blacked Out London Led to the Unauthorized Bombing of Great Britain.  The resulting chain of events may have changed the outcome of World War II.

12. Someone Accidently Kicks a Helmet Off the Top of a Wall – An Empire Collapses. Cyrus The Great’s Good Fortune. For Croesus Further Proof that Money Does Not Buy Happiness.

13. A Time Zone Mix Up May Have Caused Battle-Winning Air Cover to Have Been Missed During a Key Invasion.  

14. A Poorly Considered Statement by a U. S. Secretary of State Misled the World and Spurred a Communist Power to Invade a Free Country.

15.At the Battle of Antietam Robert E. Lee’s Secret Orders Are Wrapped Around Three Cigars and Carelessly Dropped On the Ground. They were later picked up by the Union army and the outcome of the battle was altered. Could the South have won the war ?

16.A Miscalibration of Artillery Rounds during a Critical Battle in American History Led to Surprising and Disappointing Results.

Political Campaigns: Bungled and Misbegotten


17. A Poorly Designed Document By a Single Clerk in a Single  

County Changed the Outcome of a Presidential Election and Led    Directly To a Major War. 

18.A Presidential Candidate Going in Front of the Television Cameras Made a Fateful, Cosmetic Decision that Changed the Outcome of the Election. 

19. A President Waited Too Long to Campaign for his Chosen Successor.  A week earlier and the losing side might have won.

20.A Phone Call Made Too Late to Martin Luther King Jr. Influenced the Way Black Voters Perceived a Major Political Party. The truth about how the candidates really felt.

21. A Young Congressional Aide was Told to Call Major Newspapers and Announce that Owing to His Health His Boss Was Quitting His Senate Race. The aide disobeyed and the world took a different course.

22.Overly Confident Their Candidate Had No Chance of Losing, Officials in Two Counties Failed to Participate in a Major Senatorial Primary. The outcome shocked them, and the winner later became President of the United States.

                                                    Illness and Disease

23.The Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 Began at Ft. Riley, Kansas, When Horse Manure Was Not Properly Burned. “A yellow cloud of smoke” spread the disease, which then raced around the world. Though many scientists are skeptical of this theory, a program on the History Channel suggests it was true.

24.Someone In Cameroon Around 1940 Suffered a Scratch on the Arm While Hunting in the Bush.  Thus began one of the worst pandemics in human history and the deaths of millions.

25.An Untidy Scientist Left his Window Open and the Salvation of Millions Blew In. A blessing in the sea breeze.   


The Beautiful, the Bad and the Lucky


25  The Comely Secretary of a Powerful Man Mistakenly Transposed Two Numbers in a Swiss Bank Account Deposit. The result was an enormous scandal that threatened the U. S.  Presidency itself.

26  A Retired, Somewhat Whacky Army General Nodding at Just the Right (or Just the Wrong) Moment May Have Altered Events that Led to the Assassination of President Kennedy.

27  Discouraged by a Storm, the Pilgrims Were Saved When They Turned Back from an Early Attempt at Sailing to Virginia. They narrowly escaped Pollard’s Rip, shallow, rocky water that would have sunk their ship.  



28  They Should Have Listened –The O-Ring Disaster of the Space


Shuttle Challenger. Criticized for delays, NASA okayed a space

shuttle launch in spite of ominous warnings about a thin O-ring seal.

29  An Act of Kindness by a Russian Czar Doomed the Russian Empire. Alexander II’s bulletproof carriage saved him, but his concern for injured persons nearby put him in harm’s way.

30  Failing to Synchronize Watches Among British and Australian Officers Led to Failure and Needless Death at Gallipoli.

31  Worst European Bombing Mistake of World War II. Because of miscommunication between the army and air force, bombs fell on friendly troops. Thousands were killed.

32   A Kitchen Accident Led to the Discovery of Smokeless Gunpowder and Changed the Direction of Modern Warfare. 

33  The Slandered Cow. It may not have been Mrs. O’Leary’s cow after all. It may have been arson. The Great Chicago Fire.

34  Be Sure the Right is Strong.” The German High Command of World War I partially changed the emphasis of its invasion of France. Basic math could have prevented their blunder. Would the world have been a better place if the Germans had won?

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  6. Felicia Velia says:

    Well you got my attention. I am interested in reading more.

  7. tonilong39 says:

    Very thoughtful and deep. Please give us more…

  8. tonilong39 says:

    Very deep and thoughtful writing… Would love to read more.

    • blunderking29 says:

      Thank you! Your feedback has inspired a smile in my heart. There will be a few more book sample pages ahead, and then the Trivia Contest. I hope to see and entry from you! (Don’t forget to follow us as well!)

  9. Sarah Noonan says:

    Jared – thanks for following my blog. This sounds like an interesting book – I know it would appeal to my dad and other history buffs in my family…good luck with it!

  10. I am sincerely impressed with your endeavor and if this book is as good a read as you are a writer, then I already like the book. Wish you the best. Be good.

    • Thank you very much for your compliment. A writer’s greatest reward is to be appreciate by his readers. There are a number of interesting segments coming up in the next few weeks, I hope you will stick around to see them. Best wishes!

  11. mionsiog says:

    Great work! I look forward to reading the other stories.
    Take Care.

  12. coyotero2112 says:

    Mised the trivia contest – oh, well, another amusement slipped my notice. Fun post…Nixon is such a large, loud, blundering target…surprised he wasn’t extinct like so many other large, loud, blundering animals. Will read more.

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