This title introduces most of the important personalities who drove Britain's global war effort, from the steamy jungles of Burma to the frozen Barents Sea. It provides breadth, not depth. The longest biography is about four pages (illustrations included), while most are one or two pages in length. Many figures are treated with no more than a photograph and a paragraph-length caption.
The result is a pleasant light read that makes fine introductory material. Flipping through this book, I acquired background on some figures who were new to me, and insight into others already known. Admiral Bertram Ramsay was not a flashy figure like Cunningham or Tovey, but he commanded the Dunkirk evacuation with smoothness under the worst of circumstances, then successfully led British forces in the Channel 1940-1942, and went on to command the naval portion of the D-Day landings. General Sir Alan Brooke, not a handsome chap, counseled Churchill wisely and may have prevented a few ghastly military disasters by curbing the Prime Minister's worst fantasy notions. General Sir Harold Alexander, a classicly dashing figure by comparison, was one of Churchill's favorites, but often failed to exert force of personality in command situations. Generals Auchinleck and Wavell dared to disagree with Churchill, and finished their wartime careers in backwater theatres.
This book leaves the reader with an impression of the vastness, complexity, and diversity of the British war effort 1939-1945. While by no means comprehensive, it allows insights that can only be gained through studying personalities and leadership challenges. I found one minor error, where the author describes Admiral Wake-Walker "on Prince of Wales" during the Bismarck chase. Wake-Walker actually commanded from the heavy cruiser Norfolk. Nonetheless, this title does as much as one could hope to accomplish what is frankly impossible: to cover the vast topic of British World War II leadership in a single slim volume.