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Crete: The Battle and the Resistance [Paperback]

Antony Beevor
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 Sep 2005
The Germans expected their airborne attack on Crete in 1941 - a unique event in the history of warfare - to be a textbook victory based on tactical surprise. They had no idea that the British, using Ultra intercepts, knew their plans and had laid a carefully-planned trap. It should have been the first German defeat of the war, but a fatal misunderstanding turned the battle round. Nor did the conflict end there. Ferocious Cretan freedom fighters mounted a heroic resistance, aided by a dramatic cast of British officers from Special Operations Executive.

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Crete: The Battle and the Resistance + The Cretan Runner (Penguin World War II Collection)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (12 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719568315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719568312
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Antony Beevor was educated at Winchester and Sandhurst, where he studied under John Keegan. A regular officer with the 11th Hussars, he left the Army to write. He has published four novels, and ten books of non-fiction. His work has appeared in more than thirty foreign editions. His books include The Spanish Civil War; Inside the British Army; Crete -- The Battle and the Resistance, which was awarded a Runciman Prize, and Paris After the Liberation, 1944-1949 (written with his wife Artemis Cooper). He has also contributed to several books including The British Army, Manpower and Society into the Twenty-First Century, edited by Hew Strachan and to Russia - War, Peace & Diplomacy in honour of the late John Erickson.
Stalingrad, first published in 1998, won the first Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature in 1999. The British edition was a number one bestseller in both hardback and paperback. Berlin - The Downfall 1945, published in 2002, was accompanied by a BBC Timewatch programme on his research into the subject. It has been a No. 1 Bestseller in seven countries as well as Britain, and in the top five in another nine countries. The book received the first Longman-History Today Trustees' Award.
In May 2004, he published The Mystery of Olga Chekhova, which describes the experiences of the Chekhov and Knipper families from before the Russian revolution until after the Second World War. His Russian research assistant Dr Lyubov Vinogradova and he edited and translated the war time papers of the novelist Vasily Grossman, published in September 2005 as A Writer at War - Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945.
He has also published a completely revised edition of his 1982 history of the Spanish Civil War, with a great deal of new material from Spanish sources and foreign archives. This came out in Spain in September 2005 as La guerra civil española where it became the No.1 Bestseller and received the La Vanguardia prize for non-fiction. It appeared in English in spring, 2006, as The Battle for Spain - The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. It has been a top ten bestseller in eight countries.
D-Day - The Battle for Normandy, published in June 2009, has been a No 1 Bestseller in seven countries, including the UK and France, and in the top ten in another eight countries. It has received the Prix Henry Malherbe in France and the Duke of Westminster Medal from the Royal United Services Institute.
His most recent book, The Second World War, published in June 2012, is being translated into twenty-one languages. It has already been a No 1 bestseller in Britain and four other countries, and a bestseller in another four. Altogether, more than five million copies of his books have been sold.
Antony Beevor was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1997 and in 2008 was awarded the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana by the President of Estonia. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He was the 2002-2003 Lees-Knowles lecturer at Cambridge. In 2003, he received the first Longman-History Today Trustees' Award. He is also Visiting Professor at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck College, University of London. In September 2003, he succeeded Philip Pullman as Chairman of the Society of Authors and handed over to Helen Dunmore in September, 2005. He has received honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters from the University of Kent and the University of Bath. He was a judge of the British Academy Book Prize and the David Cohen Prize in 2004, and is a member of the Samuel Johnson Prize steering committee. He is married to the writer and biographer Artemis Cooper and they have a daughter Nella and a son Adam.

Product Description


Antony Beevor's unerring flair for the climate and the feel of the conflict ... his insight and his grasp of these vents make them seem as though they had happened last week (Patrick Leigh Fermor, Daily Telegraph)

Excellent . . . an arresting account of the whole war on Crete, including the ghastly experiences of the Cretans under German occupation (John Keegan, Sunday Telegraph)

The best book we have got on Crete (Michael Foot, Observer)

Beevor's account is excellent: fresh, lively and peppered with anecdotes (Mail on Sunday)

'A new paperback edition is welcome for two reasons; reminding us that Beevor is a writer and historian of rare ability and for starkly illustrating the variables of war' (Neville Smith, Lloyd's List)

Book Description

Acclaimed historian Antony Beevor vividly brings to life the epic struggles that took place in Second World War Crete

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clarity brought to a Complex Story 12 Dec 2001
This is a splendidly-written account of the British Campaign in Greece and Crete in 1941, and to a lesser extent, of the resistance to the Germans during the occupation. The account of the defence against the German airborne invasion is masterly, and though many units are involved, the writer has the knack of keeping them distinct in the reader's mind such that there is no difficulty in following the actions at four separate but simultaneous landing points. Stories of heroism and of initiative, and also sadly of failure of will, abound on all sides. The aspect of the knife-edge that separated success and failure is very well conveyed. Bernard Freyberg emerges as a tragic figure, a man of magnificent personal courage and a Homeric hero of an earlier war, and in the same general theatre, but sadly out of his depth in the Cretan operation. One is reminded poignantly of the merciless revelation of John Bell Hood's weakness as a commander during his invasion of Tennessee in late 1864. The only fault I found with the Resistance part of the book was that it was too short, and I would have enjoyed a more extended account of individual actions. Inspired by this, I am now keen to locate "The Cretan Runner", so favourably mentioned by the author. Given the prominent role played in the Resistance story by Patrick Leigh-Fermor, those who enjoy this book will be entranced by his two books detailing a foot journey he made as a youth from Hook of Holland to Istanbul in 1934. In Crete, he and small band of heroes, British, Commonwealth and Greek, faced terrifying consequences for any failure when they faced a ruthless and merciless foe. This book underlines how high was the price paid for freedom in the 1940's, and how dreadful were the consequences of disarmament and pacifism in the democracies in the two previous decades - a lesson we forget at our peril.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not up to his later standard 2 Sep 2009
Sometime between writing this and writing his later, excellent 'Stalingrad' and highly regarded 'Berlin', Beevor seems to have changed his style, improved his research and 'blossomed' as a popular historian - perhaps this accounts for the rework of his (previously) disappointing book on the Spanish Civil War. As one of the few books on the war on Crete this is a disappointment. the narrative fails to 'flow', and there are too many asides, unimportant comments that detract from the main subject. When giving his account of the Battle, well before we get on to the resistance phase after the German victory, there is far too much about the undoubtably brave, obvioulsy colourful, but questionably relevant 'characters' from SOE - at the expense of information and details about the fighting by more conventional Forces. Too much 'gossip' and not enough fact and evaluation, and the maps are woefully inadequate in helping explain the story. He does give a very sympathetic but nonetheless crtical view of General Freyburg. Worth reading because there is little else on the subject available, but nowhere near the standard of his later, deservedly more popular books
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Defeat from the jaws of victory? 27 Mar 2012
Much like Maj Gen Freyberg's performance commanding the allied forces during the German airborne invasion of Crete I would say that overall this book was somehow a defeat where victory should have been assured. Reading some of the reviews above I was relieved to see that I was not alone in finding that the book's narrative did not always flow due to an obsession for peripheral detail as individuals' entered or departed the scene or re-entered or re-departed...or re-re-entered.....with a dog. At times I found his attention to detail for the, shall we say, 'members of the establishment' quite cringe-worthy at times. I don't really care that Nancy Double-Barrell, sister of Nigel Double-Barrell who went on to captain Oxford's lacrosse team, was one time lady in waiting to Princess This-or-that! Give that rubbish an asterisk and let those that care read it in the appendices. I agree too that the lack of maps was frustrating. I gave it 3 stars though as when it was good it was very good. The final chapters were especially very hard work as he seems to have attempted to ensure everyone who needed a mention got one? I do like accuracy and detail but ultimately save a lot of it for the appendices as who can remember all that (now pointless) detail two pages later? No one, but we do try to remember the flow of narrative. I would recommend this book when all is said and done especially as there is a dearth of such topics appearing on the shelves (or web pages) nowadays.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars He has produced better... 30 Aug 2006
I am a big fan of Antony Beevor, enjoying every book that I have read by him. However, this account of the invasion and resistance on Crete during WW2 falls a bit short compared to his epic works on Berlin and the Spanish Civil War.

The best thing about this work is that it does flow well and is written in a very readable style, so you don't get bogged down and I believe it gives a good overview with what was going on from beginning to end.

There are quite a few things which would improve it though. There are not enough maps for a start and the work is so skewed towards a British viewpoint that I would have loved to have found out a bit more about the Cretans and the Germans. The Italians hardly get a mention so I really have no idea what they did on the island ( maybe nothing?! ). Whilst I think the story of the invasion is covered pretty well, covering parallel actions in different areas the occupation/resistance seems a bit bitty. We hear too much about some SOE agents, but only tantalising titbits about others, or about other soldiers left behind after Crete fell, for instance the handy trio of Australians that crop up every now and again...I am assuming they must have had a good story to tell but they are not even named!

One other item that I feel would be really interesting is covering what happened to some of the characters after their involvement in Crete came to an end...what happened to Captain Forrester after he led that amazing charge of Cretan men, women and children!

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this book but feel it could have been a lot better.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroism, missed opportunities on both sides, and tragic human loss
This is the definitive book on the German invasion and occupation of Crete. It is a story of heroism and muddled planning on both the German and British Commonwealth sides. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read
I purchased this book as I was always aware of the battle of crete but knew little detail about it. The fate of the fallschirmjager was also of interest. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Magnus Mackay
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood & Daring under the sun
Visiting the island or not - this story deserves to be known by all - and who better to tell it than the wonderful Antony Beevor. Read more
Published 8 months ago by peejay
5.0 out of 5 stars Mayhem in the Med
Anthony Beevor is one of my favourite writers of War and conflict. He brings to life what could be a dry historical analysis with anecdotes of humanity, gleaned from letters,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. C. Cracknell
4.0 out of 5 stars Another classic from Beevor.
Shorter than some of his grander works but no less entralling. Extensive research & interviews have combined to give an all encompassing view of the campaigns. Read more
Published 9 months ago by omegaman
5.0 out of 5 stars Crete the Battle and the Resistance
Beevor does it again!! As much detail as one wants without being dull. The description of the people involved, Newzealanders, Australians, British, German, Greek and most... Read more
Published 9 months ago by George Wright
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
Anthony Beevor is one of the best authors in world war II books....
I already read "The Fall of Berlin" a few years ago and had the best impression of this author.
Published 9 months ago by Antonio Santos
5.0 out of 5 stars .
Excellent book. Highly recommended to anyone who love the history of Crete. Will be reading it again in the near future.
Published 11 months ago by .
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent summary of of the battle for crete - good in depth...
This is a factual summary of events but delves into the personalities and the politics of why it went as it did
Published 12 months ago by Mr Simon Pamplin
5.0 out of 5 stars A most eadable book.
Managed to keep a very fluid and confused battle clear. Fair in his criticism .Has led me to order the Cretan Runner and I have just finished the really excellent biography of... Read more
Published 12 months ago by John C MacDermott
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