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Synopsis and Reviews


MAGNIFICENT DISASTER
The Failure of Market Garden, The Arnhem Operation, September 1944
David Bennett
With foreword by Carlo D'Este.


After Normandy, the most spectacular Allied offensive of World War II was Operation Market Garden, which saw three divisions of paratroopers dropped behind German lines, to be joined by massive armored columns breaking through the front. The ultimate object was to seize a crossing over t the Rhine to outflank the heartland of the Third Reich and force a quick end to the war.

The Operation utterly failed, of course, as the 1st British Airborne was practically wiped out, the American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions became tied down in vicious combat for months, and the vaunted armored columns were foiled at every turn by improvisational German defenses. In many circles the battle has become known as “Hitler’s last victory.”

In this work, many years in the making, Professor Bennett puts forward a complete, balanced and comprehensive account of the British, American, Polish, Canadian and German actions, as well as the strategic background of the Operation in a way not yet done. He shows, for example, that rather than a bridgehead over the Rhine, Montgomery’s ultimate aim was to flank the Ruhr industrial area from the north. The book also deals as never before with the key role of all three Corps of British Second Army, not just Horrocks’ central XXX Corps. For the first time, we learn the dramatic, untold story of how a single company of Canadian engineers achieved the evacuation of 1st Airborne’s survivors back across the Rhine when all other efforts had failed.

Also revealed is the scandal of how Polish General Sosabowski was humiliated, insulted and dismissed by the mendacious hostility of the British military authorities. And the book shows, too, how the Operation would have failed at the outset but for the brilliant soldiery of the two American airborne divisions who overcame a variety of odds to achieve their objectives.

Respectfully nodding to “A Bridge Too Far” and other excellent works on Market Garden, the author has interviewed survivors, walked the ground, and performed prodigious archival research to increase our understanding of the battle. From the actions of the lowliest soldier to the highest commander, Allied and German, the Operation develops in highly readable style, with the author’s expert analysis unveiling new insights at every step.
...Casemate: Publisher's Synopsis


REVIEWS.

."…an informative volume… provides a wealth of detail. It will make a valuable addition to your collection if you’re an enthusiast of Market Garden or the ETO in WWII…".Armorama, 07/2008.

.“…interesting appendices and a most complete bibliography, making this probably one of the finest works on the subject yet done… both informative and entertaining… I give my highest recommendation for a superb read.” .Model Madness, 08/2008.

."…Reveals much of what history has tended to gloss over… This detailed examination of Market Garden should be a must read for all who have an interest in this operation." .Airborne Quarterly, 08/2008.

."…brings previously overlooked details of a battle I thought I knew a lot about. I didn't…expert analysis, unveiling new insights at every step.".IPMS, 09/2008.

.“…an amazing, utterly captivating and enthralling account… the amount of research he’s put into this book phenomenal. One of the most readable accounts of a second world war campaign I have ever read.”.Books Monthly (UK), 09/2008.

.“…the first to put forward a complete, balanced, and strategic account of all forces involved and provides us with a new perspective on the many errors and conflicts of the campaign.” .Best of Britain, 10/2008.

.“…a readable yet thorough history that should make a great addition to any World War Two history shelf.”.Internet Modeler, 11/2008.

.“… a smooth, concise account of the battle’s major phases and turning points, well spiced with vignettes from the tactical level…conclusions are well supported… a fine foreword by Carlo D’Este.. Demonstrat(es) that even well-studied campaigns can use a fresh look.”.World War II Magazine, 01/2009.

.."well researched and excellently written account which raises many good points and invites a great deal of comment... challenges(the reader)... provides us with a modern appreciation of the battle." .War Books Out Now, 12/2008..


The Military History of The West, Vol 40, 2010
Bennett's book opens with a series of poignant quotes from soldiers of all ranks from both the U.S. and British armies, characterizing the performance of units that, fought in Montgomery's flawed campaign to win the war in 1944. These words make it clear that there was courage, there was sacrifice, there was heroism, and there was outstanding tactical performance by soldiers and units of all the allied nations involved, but there was also stupidity and poor leadership, which were magnified by bad luck and arrogance. The costs were high. Carlo D'Este the author of Patton, a Genius for War and other noted works on World War II wrote the foreword to the book, noting that "No military operation in World War II began with higher expectations only to disastrously fail." Students of the war, however, are asking what is new? We know all this from the book and movie A Bridge Too Far, and other works on the Arnhem campaign. To be sure, the basic story has been told many times, and the overall assessment does not change in this work. However, we never get the full story and we Americans and British tend to focus on the actions, success and failures, of our own forces. Bennett brings the Polish, Canadian, and German actions into the campaign in new and significant ways. He has done his homework. He was mined the archives, walked the ground, talked with participants of the campaign, and painted the strategic picture more thoroughly than in previous works. Bennett explains the outcome of the campaign as follows: "The real problem was not the quality of the troops: rather, the need for bold and imaginative tactics....The move to relieve the paratroopers in Market Garden required a lightning advance of both infantry and tanks. Yet the British forces moved forward slowly and ponderously, with methodical preparations that were the hallmark of Montgomery's leadership" (p. 17). And, "When we have examined all the merit and defects of Allied strategy, the final result comes down to one thing, Buoyed and blinded by the success of the Allied advances of August 1944. the Allies launched an operation which assumed a German response of a sort that only materialized in April 1945 . . . the Germans outfought the British and the battle was lost" (pp. 199, 200). This is a good piece of work. It is not a rehash of stuff we already know. Congratulations to David Bennett for a fine book.

University of Kansas ADRIAN R. LEWIS




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