Devoted readers of military history will enjoy the wealth of details—and will no doubt argue with some of Beevor's conclusions, both large-scale and small. Here as in all other tellings, Montgomery receives the lion's share of the blame for the disaster, although he astounded his allies by never actually accepting any of that blame ... Beevor concludes his book with a harrowing account of this “Hunger Winter,' when over 20,000 Dutch civilians died ... The Battle of Arnhem is a thrilling and deeply involving addition to that long discussion.
As a military narrative, the Arnhem operation ticks all the boxes, with violence aplenty and lashings of heroism, plus endurance, comradeship and stubborn pride. Above all, it has a cast of magnificently flawed protagonists and mud-splattered foot soldiers ... Beevor takes a rather different approach to the unfolding events, viewing them with the detached eye of a military observer. The analysis he has produced of the disaster is forensic ... Aficionados of military history will revel in Beevor’s microscopic detail, with every skirmish given its rightful place. Yet there are times when the sheer wealth of material threatens to engulf the narrative in a way it never does in Ryan or Atkinson. The author’s cover-all-the-bases approach is intended, perhaps, to accurately reflect the chaos on the ground. Yet I couldn’t help wondering whether fewer characters—and a tighter focus—might have brought greater clarity to this vast human drama ... Beevor’s prodigious research has nevertheless unearthed many treasures, particularly his record of the sufferings of Dutch civilians who risked their necks by nursing wounded allied soldiers. Also welcome is the author’s willingness to pass judgment on the main players ... Montgomery, in particular, comes across as an insufferable bore with a highly inflated ego ... Beevor blames Montgomery for the Arnhem disaster. 'It was quite simply a very bad plan right from the start.' It was, indeed, sheer balls.
In the meticulous narrative style he first employed in Stalingrad, he recreates the operation ... The outline of the story of Arnhem may be familiar, but Sir Antony’s unearthing of neglected sources from all the countries involved—British, American, Polish, Dutch and German—brings to life every aspect of the battle. The misjudgments of egotistical commanders are exposed by their own actions and words. The experiences of individual soldiers both appall and inspire ... The plight of trapped Dutch civilians, who took great risks to help their liberators, is never overlooked. At times the wealth of detail threatens to confuse the reader. But confusion is the very essence—the 'fog'—of war.
This story is well known ... Nonetheless, Mr. Beevor retells it well, drawing on recent scholarship that has deepened our understanding of many topics (including intelligence and radio communications) related to the campaign. There were actually several interlinked battles proceeding simultaneously, and Mr. Beevor conveys a clear sense of what was happening in each fight and the knock-on consequences for the others. What’s more, the compressed time scale and limited strategic scope of Market Garden ideally suit the author’s testimony-rich approach ... Many readers will enjoy his vivid descriptions of combat, but these leave little room to dissect the cultural, technological or geographic factors that determined the fighting and how it was remembered. Given Mr. Beevor’s experience working with firsthand accounts, no one could be better placed to explore these topics. Had he done so, The Battle of Arnhem might have challenged readers to think about how we know what happens in war. It would have been all the more enthralling as a result.
This is destined to be a World War II military history classic. Historian Beevor (Ardennes 1944) draws on archives, memoirs and existing scholarship to produce a top-notch WWII battle history of the Market Garden Operation, giving equal emphasis to the American airborne landings, the XXX Corps armored attack, and the British 1st Airborne Division battle for the Arnhem bridge. Excellent maps make the action easy to follow, and the author’s clear, quick prose makes for fascinating, informative reading. Beevor seamlessly transitions from the soldier perspective in the trenches to the perspective of the generals commanding in their headquarters, and balances the points of view of all the participants, including the Germans and Dutch civilians ... Beevor’s superb latest offering, in keeping with his established record of excellence, is a must-read for the general military history enthusiast and the WWII history expert.
Beevor..spins some fine anecdotally driven stories along with the rather drier recitations of battle order and generals’ memoirs ... Beevor’s greatest contribution is in laying out an unmistakably clear chain of responsibility for an Allied failure that gave Germany breathing room for many months to come. At heart, that responsibility falls on a British and American leadership that could never quite mesh ... A vivid, deeply researched history of an episode that proved the shortfalls inherent in coalition campaigns, to say nothing of raging martial egos.