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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating account of the war
Alanbrooke provides an amazing insight into the way in which the WWII was directed. The accounts of his struggles within the British Government, the armed forces and with Britain's allies around the world are an eye opener into the interaction between military strategy and political expediency. Whilst others, Churchill included, receive Alanbrooke's wrath for their...
Published on 1 Jun 2004 by R. W. Mackenzie

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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Anger Management
In December 1941, Field Marshall Alan Brooke stepped up to the highest office in the British Army. That was just prior to Japanese attacks on British and American military bases in the Pacific islands. Despite his lofty position among the Allied Chiefs of Staff, Lord Alanbrooke is almost unknown to the public. His unofficial diary from World War II is a gold mine of...
Published 22 months ago by Kerry B.


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating account of the war, 1 Jun 2004
This review is from: Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke (Paperback)
Alanbrooke provides an amazing insight into the way in which the WWII was directed. The accounts of his struggles within the British Government, the armed forces and with Britain's allies around the world are an eye opener into the interaction between military strategy and political expediency. Whilst others, Churchill included, receive Alanbrooke's wrath for their short-sightedness and lack of military intellect, it is clear that Alanbrooke struggled with placing the military in its political context.
What amazed me, born two generations after the war, was the normality of Alanbrooke's life. Whilst bombs blow the windows of nearby buildings out, Alanbrooke's children (delightfully referred to by AB as Pooks and Mr Ti) and his wife come up to London and eat dinner with friends. As the D-day landings begin, Alanbrooke finds fascination in a new nest of birds in his garden. Whilst this brought home the humanity of the people involved, this day to day life teetered for long periods on the hum-drum. That is the reality of what happened, but don't expect a compelling read; this is a book you need to persevere at. But if you do persevere you get one of the most honest accounts (Alanbrooke frequently apologises in later entries for how harsh he was about his colleagues when in a low mood) of the running of the second world war, of the key conferences and meetings between the various protagonists, that is available.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding but disturbing memoir of World War II, 25 July 2001
By A Customer
This book should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in history, politics or psychology. Most importantly, it illustrates the danger of politicians meddling in military decisions, and the tragedy of men ordered to their likely deaths purely for reasons of political expediency (how might the war have developed if British forces had not been ordered to leave their prepared defensive positions and march into Belgium in May 1940?). The long wait from the declaration of war to the opening of real combat is vividly captured, as are the personalities of the Allied protagonists (noone escapes criticism, although praise is given when AB considers it deserved). If some of the "edge" of memoirs written by those serving on the front-line (for which read "Men at Arnhem" or "Quartered Safe Out Here"), is lacking, the snapshots of men taking decisions that will affect millions more than compensate.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surviving Winston, the Yanks, and the Bosch - in that order, 31 Dec 2005
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke (Paperback)
"Running a war seems to consist in making plans and then ensuring that all those destined to carry it out don't quarrel with each other instead of the enemy." - Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke
WAR DIARIES is Alanbrooke's daily record of events, addressed to his beloved wife Benita, during the time that he was British II Corps commander in France, then head of (England's) Southern Command, then Commander-in-Chief of Home Forces, and finally Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) from December 1941.
It isn't until page 205 of this monster 721 page narrative that Alanbrooke (AB) becomes CIGS. The reader would've been better served if this volume's editors had eliminated the first 204 pages, which are barely more than a series of entries with the flavor of that for 18 April 1941:
"Left 8:15 am for Dover where I met Bulgy Thorne and Charles Allfrey and went round with them defences 43rd Div round from Dover through Walmer, Deal, Ramsgate, Margate, Herne Bay and Whitstable. Finally returned at 6:45 pm and put in an hour in the office."
It isn't until AB becomes CIGS, when his perspective on the war becomes global and he interacts on a daily basis with Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his generals, and attends periodic conferences with Roosevelt and Stalin and their military chiefs, that AB's nightly jottings become interesting in an historical and personal sense. It's then you realize the truth behind AB's observation that heads this review.
AB, rightly or wrongly, evidently considered himself to be the best war strategist available to the western Allies. His opinion of the strategic ability of Churchill and such military commanders as U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower, U.S. General George Marshall, U.S. Admiral Ernest King, and Louis Mountbatten (Supreme Commander, Southeast Asia) is positively scathing. Indeed, AB doesn't consistently say nice things about anybody except Field Marshal John Dill (his mentor and predecessor as CIGS), Joseph Stalin, and (briefly) U.S. General Douglas MacArthur (whom he never actually meets between these pages).
The first post-war publication of AB's diary caused a stir on both sides of The Pond for its excoriation of Eisenhower and Churchill. Indeed, though AB admired and loved Winston as the superman without whom England would've lost the war, the latter's inconsiderate treatment of those around him and his gadfly approach to war strategy caused AB to write in frustration on 10 September 1944:
"Never have I admired and despised a man simultaneously to the same extent."
What comes across in WAR DIARIES is that Alanbrooke was the consummate staff officer - competent, dedicated, meticulous, organized, hard working to a fault, intelligent, honest, honorable, and persistent - upon whom Winston relied upon (without giving public credit) to haul the Empire back from the brink of defeat. Outside of his duties, however, AB was an oddly mild and unprepossessing man. His chief hobby was birdwatching; he liked to show bird films to friends who came to dine with him and Benita. Also, he seems a rather dour individual who took himself too seriously. There's no evidence in his writing of any humor, self-deprecating or otherwise.
WAR DIARIES contains a small section of sixteen photographs that's inadequate when considering those individuals often mentioned, but who don't appear: Roosevelt, King George VI, Stalin, de Gaulle, Eisenhower, AB's elder son Tom, Polish Lt. General Wladyslaw Anders, British generals "Jumbo" Wilson, Claude Auchinleck, and Ronald Adam, South African Prime Minister Smuts, and Canadian generals Andrew McNaughton and Henry Crerar.
Despite the first 200 pages, which are virtually useless except that they introduce one to AB's way of thinking and writing style, I'm awarding four stars because the remainder of WAR DIARIES is a fascinating worldview rarely encountered by Yanks, a perspective in which the American icons of WWII mythology - Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and Churchill - aren't painted as the heroes we're familiar with. And, because honor is due Alanbrooke's Herculean but largely ignored and unappreciated service to his King, country and the Allies.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best top level diary of WW2, 12 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke (Paperback)
If ever a diary was written in the right place at the right time it was this one. Alanbrooke was the CIGS, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and a right hand to Churchill throughout the war. He wrote his diary every day - even when exhausted or travelling and gives a unique first hand account of the top level WWII British and American military at work. This is the story before the arrival of the post war romantic myths, films and gloss.

Essentially the Americans were more interested in the Pacific (exclusively in the case of Admiral King) and as their manpower and production outpaced the British they became the dominant decision makers. Marshall and Eisenhower are strategically clueless but are saved by the severely weakened state of the Germans in 1944/45.

Churchill is a political showman like his father, building up British morale wonderfully at the start of the war but becoming a real military liability, pushing one madcap scheme after another in rambling alcoholic late night meetings. He was also very mean spirited, giving no credit whatsoever to his long suffering staff in his self serving histories.

Typically, after the long awaited victory at El Alamein, it was of great concern that Montgomery should not receive a heroes welcome in London that could steal his (Churchill's) limelight.
How many people know this side of Churchill? I certainly didn't.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The truth about the top brass, 21 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke (Paperback)
This is a marvellous book for anyone interested in history. It is a gem not just for the military historian, but for those just interested in how people lived. In 1939 Brooke comes over as a bit stiff necked. As time goes on he loosens up and the writing improves. His mind is broadened by contact with so many different nationalities and places. A bird lover, he nevertheless takes pleasure in slaughtering pheasants and even counts the bodies.
He is a steadying influence on the egotistical and mercurial Churchill, and is remarkable for keeping his head under enormous stress.
He is harsh in jhis judgments, referring to several people as 'small'. His dislike of the brilliant Hore-Belisha ('greasy') I put down to prejudice. He refers to several people as 'specimens'.
Eisenhower,Marshall and Mountbatten are all put in their place. If he likes someone, e.g. Dill, then they can do no wrong. He likes but finds fault with Alexander, whom he considers likeable, high principled but vacant.
Some parts of the war which are notable he barely mentions-the Battle of Britain, Arnhem for example. He writes a lot about Burma, but briefly mentions Slim and his wonderful campaign. He does replace Leese with Slim, but lectures Slim on prima donna generals, without justification.
He laments loss of military talent in WW1, but is very much part of the Establishment, which may well have hampered talent. I laughed when I read he was considering dismissing Montgomery for a frank pamphlet on VD.
I could go on and on. He reveals that our Masters are no better than we are, and as far as I can see, self indulgent and at times childish. He was a man of sound judgment, and compared the ways of politicians to a ram's horn. We have a lot to be grateful to him for.
I did notice one error-no doubt by the editors in reading Brooke's handwriting. The prominent South African general he refers to as 'van Reinwald' is really Pierre van Ryneveld. There never was a 'van Reinwald'.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A reader's comments, half-way through.., 27 July 2001
By A Customer
Definitely not an easy read. Packed full of content it is undoubtedly of historical value and insight. The most enlightening passages are those which are added to the diary entries after the diary was written. (These are italicised, and easy to find). Many of the entries are dull, seeming to be an endless round of meetings, or touring military installations. (Chiefs of staff daily session etc).
The insightful stuff centres around his meetings with world leaders, (his meetings with Stalin for example), his constant interaction with Churchill, where he pulls no punches, and his ongoing conflict with Beaverbrook. Getting the inside view on what Churchill promised Stalin at their private session in Moscow (ie to open a Western Front in 1943) has been the highlight of the book for me so far.
Half-way through the diaries, I am not sure I acutally understand Alanbrooke the man, any better, only his surroundings and perceptions. It does provide, however, a unique historical insight into the period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gives an excellent insight into the operation of the war., 13 Feb 2014
By 
Paul A. Sheldon (France) - See all my reviews
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Warts and all diary of what went on in the war cabinet , and more importantly how Churchill conducted the war. The diary was written as the events unfolded so no "subject to hindsight" Lady Churchill never spoke to him after publication despite the stress on his admiration for Churchill! The old boy network, IE Moutbatten's appointment, was certainly working well, but despite all, and more perhaps due to Hitlers mistakes, we won. An easy read and very interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, 18 Jun 2013
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Brilliant description of the functioning of the British war cabinet and of the leaders who led the war effort against the Germans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal and historical perspective., 12 May 2013
By 
Donald McPhee "donniemcphee" (Glasgow U.K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke (Paperback)
This is a vivid almost fly on the wall recount of the combined chiefs of staff during the war years. Yes Alanbrooke joined the chiefs in 1941 but his intellect and charisma saw him appointed to chair almost immediately.
His diary, written every night, is raw and unvarnished and contains many unflattering opinions of historical but on the whole paints an accurate picture of the situation and the man writing the diary.

The book itself is quite a dry read but for anyone with an interest in the man, the times or the politics of that era it is an indispensable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In my top ten of non fiction, 23 April 2013
By 
A straight talking and at times acid description of the administrative WW2 command front line at the top. Worth reading just for the details of the risky trips he and Churchill took to see other wartime leaders. The book well illustrates the ebb and flow of the conflict and how close different outcomes and the timing of the end of WW2 might have come to pass. Those with the benefit of hindsight who criticise WW2 actions taken should read this book. I felt the book seemed a much straighter account than those with an interest in telling a story of what they would have liked to have happened and their role in proceedings. I will read again.
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Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke
Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke by Lord Alanbrooke (Paperback - 14 Mar 2002)
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