Being interested on the subject of the so called "winter battles", I've found a lot of books about the Bulge and Market Garden battles, with other battles being relegated to a comparative obscurity. One of those is the one described in this work. I'd like to point out that the title of this book is completely correct: only the operation "Black Cock" (no cheap jokes about the codename, please!!) is covered, a fact sometimes forgotten by other writers which gave quite specific titles to their works, and after that, tend to forget this, giving general accounts which have only a slight reference to the title. In this point, authors Gootzen and Connor deliver a book about one particular battle,nothing more, nothing less. If you are looking for a wider point of view about the january 1945 situation, clearly this is not your book. This is not a cheap rehash of materials given on other books, either. Despite being the first military history book written for the authors, these two gentlemen have put together a commendable, serious, well structurated and well researched work.
After a quick review of the situation in january 1945 and of the events which caused the " Roermond triangle" ,both writers (a former British Army officer and a dutch local historian) compose a meticulously and well researched history of the fourteen days of battle between a three-division, reinforced British corps and a two-division weak german corps.
Despite a commendable beguinning, with the writers stating that they had tried to avoid old enemities, the account follows mainly british sources, not a negative factor "per se", but the german point of view is covered in a lesser degree. In my humble opinion the writers try -and most of time succed- on giving a fair and balanced account of the battle, regrettabily, there are moments on the narrative where the reader is left in a relative darkness about the german perspective.
There are also chapters covering the aftermath of the battle as well as the civilian point of view, this last aspect is rarely covered on most books about these battles , and again is given without undue ternurism, despite the somewhat grisly incidents that are narrated on the book. The book is thoroughly illustrated with maps and photos, and as usual in the books written lately about the NWE campaign, includes a chapter about the battlefield now, giving clues for touring the main locations covered in this work.
On the negative side, the book is saddled with rather general accounts of the weaponry used and the TOEs of the opposing forces, which in my opinion are largerly unrrelevant (with the exception of the "Cuckoo", a "Panther" in british service). Moreover, the material given about one key german formation, the 183rd Volksgrenadier Division, is limited to just give some information about incidents which took place two months before the battle began. There are some confusing accounts about the use of panzers in the battle, which is unfortunate, given the small amount of german AFVs used in this battle. Sadly, these points detract value from which otherwise should have been a extremely useful book.
All this said, the book is good value for the money you pay for it -which by the way goes to finance the Erskine military hospital, a commendable purpose on itself. Above all, is a welcome addition to any military library which tries to get covered the ETO campaigns, and comes to cover an unjustly forgotten battle.