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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and enthralling account
Popular history recalls the Dunkirk story with a chin-up, shiny spirit of resilience and crafty British guile - the first `Great Escape'. `Dunkirk spirit' has now become a tabloid byword for cheery, bulldog tenacity in the face of adversity.

But Sebag-Montefiore's incisive history pulls no punches and wipes the grin off the face of popular myth. He shows how...
Published on 6 Mar. 2008 by Pillboxer1940

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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed But Limited
The `miracle' of Dunkirk, as Churchill styled our most famous military disaster, is one surrounded by myths. This book sets out to dispel some of them, but for readers unfamiliar with the story of the fall of France in 1940, it might not be the best place to start, as it does not convey the broad picture very clearly. An entertaining opening of British soldiers visiting...
Published on 8 Aug. 2007 by Jon Latimer


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and enthralling account, 6 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man (Paperback)
Popular history recalls the Dunkirk story with a chin-up, shiny spirit of resilience and crafty British guile - the first `Great Escape'. `Dunkirk spirit' has now become a tabloid byword for cheery, bulldog tenacity in the face of adversity.

But Sebag-Montefiore's incisive history pulls no punches and wipes the grin off the face of popular myth. He shows how one of Britain's landmark historical moments of the last century was actually tarnished by desperate, bloody fighting with no quarter spared.

Accepted history concentrates on what happened on the beaches. However the author says the battles that really counted occurred several miles inland on the Dunkirk town perimeter.

Here, British troops fought a dwindling rearguard last stand, giving their lives so other troops could live. For each soldier's life lost, precious minutes were gained to aid the evacuation and ensure the British Army could live to fight another day.

And the battle didn't end with the last bedraggled Tommy boarding the last departing ship from Dunkirk. For a further fortnight, stranded British troops retreated in the face of dive-bombers and SS massacres, culminating with a final evacuation from St. Nazaire and the hushed-up sinking of the Lancastria, with the loss of 3,500 men.

In-depth research gathered from archives as far away as Russia and Czechoslovakia, together with detailed maps, fascinating photographs and stark first-hand accounts from the remaining handful of veterans, do the Dunkirk story justice.

This weighty tome is masterly and scholarly, yet its fast, clear pace makes this definitive work highly readable.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong account of individual bravery, 8 Aug. 2006
I inherited an interest in WW2 from my history teacher father and have read many factual accounts from both the Allied and German perspective over the years. This book stands up well against the more recognised military historians like Holmes, Keegan or Beevor.

After the introducions and background are completed this volume concentrates quite rightly on the tales of each beleagured BEF battalion as they fought a desperate rearguard action back to the French and Belgian coast. Tales of individual heroism and leadership are intermingled with corroborative texts from both British and German archives and extracts that give the bigger picture as events unfolded.

The Dunkirk evacuation ended a huge defeat for the British Army and this book does not seek to hide or diminish that fact. However what it does do is demonstrate the resolute attitude of the Officers and Soldiers on the ground that took huge casualties and made great personal sacrifiuces in order to help ensure that as many men as possible could be extracted to fight another day.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed But Limited, 8 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man (Paperback)
The `miracle' of Dunkirk, as Churchill styled our most famous military disaster, is one surrounded by myths. This book sets out to dispel some of them, but for readers unfamiliar with the story of the fall of France in 1940, it might not be the best place to start, as it does not convey the broad picture very clearly. An entertaining opening of British soldiers visiting French brothels, like children let loose in a sweet shop, is followed later by a detailed account of the `Mechelen incident', when German plans were captured in January 1940. But the implications are less well dealt with, and Colonel-General Gerd von Rundstedt, whose forces performed the decisive German attack through the Ardennes called 'sichelschnitt', or sickle-cut, does not make an appearance until chapter 11.

The use of first-hand accounts conveys the confusion and desperation of the fighting, and the narrative is sometimes intensely personal. There are French and German voices early on, but thereafter it relies on British ones as the book concentrates on the efforts of the soldiers holding the defensive ring while the `little boats' and the Royal Navy set about the work of evacuation. In this it succeeds in creating a vivid impression of what it was like for those desperate men. The book's best sections are those dealing with set pieces, such as the defence of the village of Cassel, the massacres of British prisoners by SS men at Le Paradis and Wormhout, but this is at the expense of the evacuation itself which is covered in much less detail. The book finishes describing the capture of two-thirds of 51st (Highland) Division at St Valery-en-Caux, and the tragic sinking of the Lancastria with over 3,500 lives lost, but it skates quickly over the further evacuations that brought 144,000 British servicemen back from France from points south of the River Somme.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars S Sebag Montefiore: DUNKIRK, 29 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man (Paperback)
I think one should distinguish between the professional finish and great literary flow of this book, and its value as history. It is almost always factually correct, relates many episodes (including once obscure ones such as the SS massacre of British prisoners) and gets the imagination going. Sebag-M sits alongside Anthony Beevor as a historian of this type. On all those grounds it is worth 5 stars. However 2 hours at the National Archive reading the original RN, RAF and War Office reports, followed by a re-reading of Divine's classic "Nine Days at Dunkirk" take one closer to the people and the facts. There is something just a bit too literary, stylish and middle-class about the text to recall to mind those grimy seamen, gentleman officers, French officials, amateur and professional yachtsmen, and Prussian generals who acted out Dunkirk.
So, a very good book from a very able author, but I kept thinking "This still isn't close enough to the time and the reality".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ive been meaning to write this for 6 years - and now you will know why., 17 July 2013
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This review is from: Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man (Paperback)
I read this book 6 years ago as a take-away for my holidays. I had always had an arm-chair interest in both of the World Wars, but this book reached where no other had! Its now 6 years on and I'm still reading and collecting around this books main theme. I can't explain enough how every aspect of this book leads to yet another long period of enjoyable research and reading. Just to give you one example; we are all aware of the glider assault on Pegasus bridge on D-day by the Para's but can you just imagine my shock when the Germans had used this principle 4 years earlier!!!! On the 10th May on the fort of Eden-Emael: and effectively it was just one of many initial Special forces activities that were engaged on that morning! Me reason for mentioning this is because for the following year of my life I sort-out every source and reference on this assault and it was just phenomenal; from whose initial idea it was to the training, practicing with new secret-weapons and principles; the German-para's determination and even the role of the glider-assault-pilot!!

Also (and I could go on-&-on) Question: If I asked what was the biggest tank battle of WW2 I'm guessing you would be thinking to the Eastern-front! Well the events leading up to Dunkirk and the battle of Hannut need to be revisited! Also 1939-40 who had the biggest and best tanks? And Rommel in 1940! And also this book lets us know the answer to the ever spoken question of 'Where was the RAF?' you cant read this book without finding the reason and appreciation of why; and the book is laced with hundreds of personal accounts ie: The RAF account of Flight lieutenant Bill Simpson; I could go on-&-on. The book is amazing and thank you to Hugh Sebag Monefiore for the catalyst of an amazing event that changed History.

I now have a WW2 Battledress and equipment! So that I not only read about it but can touch history. This book is amazing.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dunkirk-detailed debate., 31 July 2006
To date,the most comprehensive review of the subject from British,French and German sources.Whilst containing sufficient detail at a military unit level for most students the overall handling of the time-line requires some care in following.The notes,bibliography and maps are excellentand accurate.A minor quibble is that where sources differ as to their detail Sebag-Montefiore does not follow up.Nevertheless the best on the history so far.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent personal accounts but a bit unbalanced, 14 Aug. 2007
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J. Bloss "jethrox1" (Buckingham,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man (Paperback)
I did find this account of the events that culminated in the defence and evacuation of Dunkirk very interesting and readable. It uses a lot of first hand accounts but upon reflection it is too skewed towards the British experience, without providing enough German, French, Belgian and Dutch voices or sources. Whilst it is not as bad as Stephen Ambrose with his US centric view, it does detract from the work as a whole. There is just a little too much opinion of French and Belgian cowardice and incompetence. I would have loved to have seen what the German view of certain key events was and also how self-critical were the French and Belgian Generals / politicians. Overall enjoyable but could have been improved
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful account, 25 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man (Paperback)
Any attempt to recount the debacle at Dunkirk founders to a certain extent on the lack of information from the French side. Inevitably the British perspective gradually takes over simply because of the availability of source material and the wilingness to examine the topic. No French historian to my knowledge has attempted to produce an overview of the 1940 campaign and the defeat of the French armies. Certainly there have been some superb histories covering the machines used by the French and the engagements in which they fought but they have only really dealt with small and isolated aspects of the overall campaign. Nothing has been attempted on the scale of Horne's 'To lose a battle' and thus one is left with a kind of vacuum. This is disappointing as the view has often been expressed that the British deserted the French in their hour of need. However, what is needed is an answer to the question (and once again no French historian has actually attempted to answer it) why should young Britsh, Dutch and Belgian men die for France when the French for the most part were not prepared to do so themselves? A detailed and well researched French perspective on this campaign is long overdue.
Sebag-Montifiore does attempt to address the French view and includes interesting details in his supeb work of the deteriorating relationships between the two allies. It is refreshing to read a history which covers the events in such detail but also does not ignore any of the human aspects. He tries to be fair to the French and includes several accounts of how French soldiers suffered from British prejudice and mistreatment as well as the other way round. Here I felt that more could have been made of the evacuation of the French troops as well - for example the 2nd DLM crossed the channel - and accounts from of this would have added an extra dimension to the book. Still one is impressed by the detail he does manage to include. One impression that shines through in his material is the professionalism of the British soldiers despite defeat and here perhaps is the vital difference between them and the French army. The latter certainly contained highly professional and competent elements but overall does not seem to have reached the same level as the British. Once again Horne also bears this out.
Is this work defenitive? Well no because a definitive account of this action would probably stretch to over 2,000 pages. However, it is as near definitive as can be expected and superceeds all other accounts of the evacuation. We can confidently describe it as a masterwork and it is one that should be read by anyone interested in the campaign in France. Do not be put off by the length as there is a lot of information and detail that needs to be included. Sebag-Montifiore has done the subject justice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars detailed yet readable account of our brave fathers and grandfathers, 8 May 2014
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Some history books are written by authors who, while they obviously know the subject inside out, cannot write in a style that engages the reader. Not this one. Sebag-Montefiore manages to walk that fine line of presenting a huge amount of historical detail whilst still telling a story in a very readable way. A very poignant story too, of a period in WWII which doesn't get enough detailed analysis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Extrmely well-researched history of the background to and heroic action ..., 22 Aug. 2014
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I. Ogden "whistlestop" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man (Paperback)
Extrmely well-researched history of the background to and heroic action to permit the acclaimed evacuation operation in the early stages of WWII. Gives graphic and dramatic detail of individual actions executed by units which showed tremendous courage in the face of the overwhelming German onslaught. Clearly identifies who were the real, often unsung heroes of Dunkirk.
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Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man
Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore (Paperback - 31 May 2007)
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