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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 November 2001
One of WWII's leading correspondents here describes the Allied push onto mainland Europe and the subsequent drive for Berlin. The book is not a blow-by-blow account of the military maneuvers, but rather a series of anecdotal impressions of the soldiers, the people, and the ebb and flow of war covering Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and finally Germany. Published in 1945, it's fairly interesting if only because Moorehead doesn't write from the armchair long after the fact. For anyone interested in the war, it's a worthwhile read, although it begs for more maps (which the new Granta edition may have).
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Moorehead was with the troops from the landings in southern Italy (Salerno, 1943) throughout some of the long slog north; in the Normandy landings and the long slog there; during the break-out, the liberation of Paris, Brussels, Nijmegen, and the battles into Germany including the collapse in the West; pkus he was among the first (the very first) in both Copenhagen and Oslo.

The writer: Alan Moorehead (1910-1983) was an Australian journalist and all-round writer who was with the troops (and their leaders) in the North African battles from Wavell onwards. He was mentioned in despatches twice. His Desert War Trilogy: The Classic Trilogy on the North African Campaign 1940-43 is a brilliant account of the desert battles.

My opinion: not as good as the African Trilogy, which is excellent - but still pretty good. His description of the wait for the D-Day landings on the 4th and 5th of June is spellbinding; his description of the Paris liberation is very good, and funny in places - he hoped for a moment he was going to be the one to liberate the Ritz, and 'it was a little galling to find Ernest Hemingway sitting in the dining room over a bottle of Heidsieck." He reports on the quagmire of collaboration and waiting for liberation, on Bergen-Belsen and the German population's reactions; and the final few pages, where he came into Oslo before the official delegation, brought tears to my eyes. He also includes the Bengal famine in the great tragedies of the Second World War, which is not something we hear about much these days.
Mooreead is quite keen on Montgomery, having folloowed him for so long, but is not blind to M's shortcomings; he also was convinced of the relity of the 'Southern Redoubt' in Germany, with arguments. The book is slightly dated, but with very vivid passages at the same time, and very well-written. Recommended.
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on 28 October 2008
with the additional recommendation of maybe seeking out Chester Wilmot's 'Struggle for Europe' as an accompanying volume to this publication.
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