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Unauthorized Action: Mountbatten and the Dieppe Raid [Hardcover]

Brian Loring Villa

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Book Description

Mar 1990
On 19 August 1942, a mainly Canadian force that had spent two and a half years in training, left England to raid the Nazi-occupied French port of Dieppe. The mission was a complete disaster, with some 4000 soldiers and marines killed, maimed or captured in a single morning. Over forty five years later, Canadians have yet to fully come to terms with one of the Second World War's greatest tragedies. The result of eight years' exhaustive research, Brian Villa's book delves beneath the official obfuscation to reveal why the Dieppe raid was sanctioned, when its abject failure was anticipated, the political and military pressures placed on Churchill and the British Chiefs of Staff and the vagaries of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who as Chief of Combined Operations was ultimately responsible for the decision to attack.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 327 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, Canada; 1st Edition edition (Mar 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195406796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195406795
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,104,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

About the Author Brian Villa is Associate Professor of History at the University of Ottawa.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incisive study of Governments at war 6 Nov 1997
By David W. Nicholas - Published on
I was prepared not to like this book. I say this at the beginning to give the reader of this review warning: I'm a convert, somewhat, to the author's point of view.
The Dieppe Raid is one of the puzzles of WW2. Why the British persisted in launching it when it had already been cancelled once, and was obviously a precarious proposition at best, has never been satisfactorily explained. My worry was that Villa, being a Canadian, would take an explicitly anti-British point of view, with which I would take issue. He doesn't.
Instead, the book focuses on the decision-making process, and the way governments launch operations in wartime. This part of the book is fascinating, and enlightening. His premise (that Mountbatten launched the raid himself, as Combined Operations head, without the required approval of the Chiefs of Staff) is a bit of a stretch, but by the end of the book, I was willing to say I needed to see an alternative explanation before I believed otherwise.

The book's style is rather formal, and there's little attempt at humor or levity, but the writing is clear and incisive. The author has obviously done his homework. There are separate chapters on the navy and RAF, both of which display knowledge of the overall context of the period of the war in which Dieppe took place, and the circumstances under which the decision was made. All of this strongly adds to the book itself, and the author's thesis. All in all a very good book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling 31 July 2004
By Michael A Dorosh - Published on
An excellent book with a chilling additional chapter in the updated edition.

Very scholarly work, examines in detail the supposition that Mountbatten launched the Dieppe Raid without permission or authorization. The claim is supported by evidence, though it may take several readings to fully grasp the intricacies of the argument being presented.

Focusses entirely on politics and thus will not satisfy those looking for the military details of this action, nor the planning issues. A well focussed, well written, and - if one reads the final chapter added to the first edition - chilling story of how this disastrous raid came into being and who may have been finally responsible.
5.0 out of 5 stars Canada's brutal beating at Dieppe 15 Oct 2010
By Canuck in the US Army - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Canada got plastered on that day-August 19,1942-the leadership in Canada's military at the time had backbone but forgot to use it that day. LTG Crerar,LTG McNaughton and the Task Force Commander-MG Hamilton- failed to speak up and protect the military personnel and allowed this disaster happen. Yes Canada's military wanted to meet the enemy dead on but should have scrubbed the whole plan even if they would lose their jobs. This is a great read for all the lessons it brings to the table. Great read, great facts of this brutal disaster in Canadian military history.
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