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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spirited defence of Monty and the Brits
Robin Neillands has set out to examine the 'myth' of Normandy - ie that the Britsh were tardy in getting forward and, consequently, the Americans had to get us out of trouble by breaking out using their superior fighting elan - and he does a good, though at times, pedantic job.
Neillands makes the point - repeatedly - that it was always the plan for the British and...
Published on 25 Mar 2004 by Kentspur

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13 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How the British and Canadians won the war
In his introduction Robin Neillands states his intention to destroy the myths and give an even-handed account of the Battle for Normandy. In this he falls woefully short of this aim as indicated by the fact that his book contains only nineteen quotes taken from US veterans and seventy one quotes from British and Canadian veterans. He goes to great lengths throughout the...
Published on 26 Mar 2005 by Amazon Customer


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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spirited defence of Monty and the Brits, 25 Mar 2004
By 
Kentspur (Er...Kent) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Battle of Normandy 1944: 1944 the Final Verdict (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)
Robin Neillands has set out to examine the 'myth' of Normandy - ie that the Britsh were tardy in getting forward and, consequently, the Americans had to get us out of trouble by breaking out using their superior fighting elan - and he does a good, though at times, pedantic job.
Neillands makes the point - repeatedly - that it was always the plan for the British and Canadians to suck in (or 'write down') the armoured reserves of the German army on the East of the battlefield, ie around Caen, while the Americans punched through to travel first West to take the Brittany ports and then East to the Seine.
At first blush it is easy to see why American commentators (in particular) have questioned the fighties qualities of the British as the rapid advances were made by American troops. To my mind, this is so blindingly simple it is surprising that the 'controversy' has raged as long as it has. There were six panzer divisions in front of the British and Canadians and one in front of the Americans (until the mess of the Mortain counter-attack, by which time the Americans were well into the break-out and even then the actual strength of German armour is questionable.) It's not tough to work out who is going to have the tougher job breaking through.
Monty has been criticised for failing to take Caen on D-Day. Yes it was in the plan, but so what. On D-Day itself, the Americans themselves were having one or two problems at Omaha and were lucky to get any kind of lodgement. For American historians to get shirty with the British for not taking a major town on June 6th is a bit ridiculous. There should be some understanding that plans can be over-ambitious. No one really knew how far anyone was going to progress on the first day; the war in the West was effectively won because brave troops - American, British and Canadian - got onto the beaches and would not be shoved off. This is not to denigrate American troops. The performance of the 29th and First divisions on Omaha was superb. Go to the place and you'll see why it's a hard place to land. Its hard enough to get up the bluffs now with paths, let alone with dug-in Germans shooting at you.
Having got that off my chest, I can say that Neillands book is thorough, but, at times, confusing. This is a huge battle and difficult to follow even if you know all the place names off by heart. (Errr...like I do.) It doesn't flow as well as Max Hastings' Overlord, though its conclusions are fairer as Hastings was heavily influenced by Carlo D'este's 'Decision in Normandy', a work Mr Neillands takes to task more than once.
At the end, Mr Neillands makes the point that whatever the arguments, we should honour the troops and not dwell on the petty arguments which, I felt, was a tad disingenuous as he had just spent 500-odd pages doing exactly that, but the points well made. The Normandy battle showed Britain and America at their best. We should always remember who they were fighting and why.
I would certainly recommend this work. Particularly if you're American.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debunking the 'Myths' of Normandy, 15 Dec 2010
By 
Mr. T. Philipson (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Battle of Normandy 1944: 1944 the Final Verdict (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)
Having read Max Hasting's `Overlord', Beevor's recent history of the Normandy campaign, as well as other more general histories of the European war such as Chester Wilmot's `The Struggle for Europe', Neilands take on the Normandy campaign was refreshingly honest, and remarkably unchauvinistic. The temptation - like Neilands himself acknowledges - is to redress the critiques of the British and Canadian contribution to the campaign by indulging in equally biased critiques of the American part of the campaign. Being objective is always difficult in the prevailing times which deem it fashionable to detract from the achievements of the entire allied campaign - particularly the British and Canadian - and the generalship which drove the campaign on to ultimate victory. In this however, Neilands is largely successful, and the real strength of the book lies in the sophisticated contextualisation which characterises the book. It is so very easy to condemn with the luxury of hindsight, but as Neilands demonstrates, at the time there was general consensus that the overall strategic plan envisaged by Montgomery was accepted by the ground commanders, and acknowledged to be the most `workable' solution to the problem of overcoming some of the most dogged defence by the some of the most battle hardened troops on the European continent. As Neilands comments, although fighting for a ghastly cause, the Germans nonetheless deserve credit for putting in such a determined defence against all the odds. Conversely, it is to Mongomery's credit that the overall strategic plan he engineered would ultimately prevail against these resolute defenders, and to the credit of the fighting men that they were able to carry out this difficult task in the (timely) manner they did. Revisionist history is not a helpful analytical tool, but this volume is far from revisionist in this sense. For sure, it revises prevailing historical orthodoxy, but this is by means of being firmly rooted in the sources, and as such raises important questions in respect of the often uneasy relationship between `orthodoxy' and military `reality' itself. In short, highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blows The Myth, The Battle of Normandy, 12 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Battle of Normandy 1944: 1944 the Final Verdict (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)
This is an excellent read, very well detailed, and really does put the whole campaign into perspective. As a Serving soldier in this war theatre, I had for a long time "smarted" under the influence of unjustifiable criticism levelled by American Historians and News casts, and exasperated by similar criticism from British Press that was prelavent at that time against British and Canadian troops, and the Battle plans of Field Marshall Montgomery, Those of us that served under Him were proud to do so and He earned our respect as an able Commander and strategist. If you wish to know the real truth of the conduct of the Normandy campaign, Then this book is the one to read. (Ex 1st. Btn. Worcestershire Regt.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 10 Nov 2013
Excellent book. Very detailed and balanced. Well worth a read for any World War Two buff. My second Neillands book.
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13 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How the British and Canadians won the war, 26 Mar 2005
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This review is from: The Battle of Normandy 1944: 1944 the Final Verdict (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)
In his introduction Robin Neillands states his intention to destroy the myths and give an even-handed account of the Battle for Normandy. In this he falls woefully short of this aim as indicated by the fact that his book contains only nineteen quotes taken from US veterans and seventy one quotes from British and Canadian veterans. He goes to great lengths throughout the book to point out that the US forces faced not only smaller numbers of Germans but the were of a poorer quality than those facing the British and the Canadians. Furthermore although he writes that there were a great number of friendly fire incidents in giving specific examples of these incidents, the Americans cause three, 1 by the Canadians and none by the British. I could give many more examples of where the author is anything but even-handed but I shall move on.
Mr Neillands also seems to have forgotten what he had included in his book by the time he came to writing the epilogue, in which he writes of never having heard a Canadian or British veteran disparage their American comrades, well there are at least three occasions in the book when they do just that unless comments like "What side will the Americans be fighting on today" is supposed to be praise.
Then there are the contradictions i.e. at the start of the book he states that Eisenhower was the best man for the position of Supreme Commander, however he then goes on in the rest of the book to portray him as a feeble-minded buffoon who did not understand what was happening until the battle was nearly over two months later.
As a Britain and an ex-serviceman I get annoyed when I read books that give all the credit to the Americans and their commanders whilst either denigrating or ignoring the contributions made by their allies and was looking forward to reading a balanced account of this campaign unfortunately Mr Neillands book falls woefully short of balanced. His claim that the works of other historians are offensive to British and Canadian veterans is undoable true but if he thinks that is work is going to be any less offensive to the US veterans then I believe he is just being naive. He is also claims that other national historians (he does not give names) go to great pains to disparage the efforts of the British and Canadians, well I have read some of Stephen Ambrose's views on Normandy and lines such as "It wasn't fair to charge Monty with excessive caution or a refusal to make a full commitment" or "the trouble with Goodwood was not a lack of commitment by the British and certainly not lack of courage" do not seen to me to disparage British efforts and Stephen Ambrose certainly tends to build up the American contribution.
Overall a disappointingly biased book but it does provide a counter balance to some of the equally biased American retelling of the events.
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