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The Tank War: The Men, the Machines and the Long Road to Victory Hardcover – 25 Apr 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (25 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408703637
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408703632
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.7 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A genuinely fresh perspective . . . shocking in its rawness . . . achieves the almost impossible feat of capturing something of the excess of emotion conjured up by the heat of battle (Spectator) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Mark Urban turns his mind to the Second World War and the men and the Machines who beat Hitler

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Baerends on 13 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback
Excellent book detailing the adventures of the 5th Royal Tank Regiment, from the disastrous battle of France to the deserts of North Africa, Italy, and finally the bloody break-out from Normandy and the invasion of Germany.

One strong point of this book is how Urban effortlessly changes perspective from the tank turret to the wider strategic picture. Furthermore, it is (in my humble opinion at least) very fair and balanced in that it gives due credit to the admirable bravery of the crews, while also expanding on the less glorious aspects: badly planned and executed actions, tensions between crews and inexperienced commanders (sometimes resulting in near mutiny), battle fatigue, drinking and looting, and occasions of panic. A very understandable example of the latter is a confrontation in Normandy where a number of crews, finding their Cromwell 75 mm rounds just bouncing off a Tiger's thick skin, simply bail out and run for it.

'The Tank War' clearly focuses on the human side rather than on the technical. Readers should not expect details on the Christie suspension system of the Cruiser or on the sizes of bolts in the Cromwell, but Urban does a very good job in describing the evolution of the tank throughout the war. The 5th RTR operated a variety of tanks, starting with unreliable Cruiser A13s, then transferring into reliable yet still small M3 Valentines, then M3 Grant, Crusader, Sherman, and finally in Normandy, Cromwell and Sherman Firefly. For laymen such as yours truly this is quite educational; I had never realized that armour piercing ammunition is just solid shot that does not explode when penetrating a tank but rather ricochets around inside, the effect augmented by shards of spalled-off armour.

To conclude, an excellent book about a very brave set of soldiers.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Budcus on 25 Jun 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think this is probably the best book about WW2 that I have read so far. A heady mix of facts and people which illustrated time and again the useful nature of tanks on a battlefield requiring a great deal of logistics and counter measures to contain the threat they represent. Also a cunning insight into the need for precision engineering to make mechanised warfare reliable enough. Further, a fascinating insight into the political nature of the British army at the time and the restrictive nature of the regimental system. Additionally, a quick insight into the first true arms race which the Germans were so close to winning at times plus the exploding of the many myths that surrounded the early German successes and the surprising efficacy of the British counter measures, often played down or forgotten, and the bravery of tank crews who frequently survived their tank being put beyond use by enemy action and seemingly just returning to get another in order to re-join the fray. Quite uplifting in its way and a good absorbing read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Sara Mairi on 2 Oct 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was proud to receive this book as my uncle is featured. He is Gerry Solomon who took part in the Tank Campaigns in this book and of whom I am exceedingly proud. Thanks for the boost!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ellin Books on 15 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is needed badly. The number of books that degrade the tank operations of the British army seems to be the in thing. This book gives the true storey of the tank men in the desert Italy and the continent. The learning curve of these operations is clearly shown, as the tank men learned the hard way how to defeat superior tanks. Mark Urban books have always covered the content very well, and this book is no exception. I recommend this book, both to the proffesional and general reader.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not quite as good as I hoped; Urban lacks the Stephen Ambrose touch of uniting personal narratives with the wider picture. Urban's awareness of the qualities of the "filthy" tanker in contrast with the "professionals" of the cavalry makes one wonder about the quality of today's officer class.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fast introduction to allow the reader to "get into the story". The details leading up to a battle were sometimes thin but I was able to understand many of the actions taken by the main participants of the story. I enjoyed this book
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Bull on 27 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mark urban writes consistently interesting and human accounts of what it's like to be a soldier, whether it be in the Peninsular War or as in this book, WW2. He uses his well established method of taking several soldiers of varying rank and following them through the various campaigns to tell a detailed and human story. In this case it is 5th RTR, a unit close to my own family and indeed one of the soldiers Mark follows through the war is my uncle. If you want to feel the claustrophobia of being in a tank during some of the fiercest fighting of the war this book is for you, I for one shall never view what my uncle and others went through in the same light again.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very well told story. Full of facts and characters. Mark Urban writes cracking books that are well researched.
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