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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars before he had the Python, 17 Jun 2010
By 
gille liath (US of K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery (Paperback)
A recent discussion on the History forum brought home to me how little the course of the war in northern Europe is understood in this country. Insidiously we have come to accept the American version, that the British played only a support role, Montgomery was a lag-along general, and his one big venture - Arnhem - was a disaster of his own making.

Though it obviously needs to be treated as a primary source rather than history per se, this book is essential to comprehension of those events - especially as it reproduces many of the original memos, orders etc of the time. The picture that emerges is of a High Command crippled by political sensibilities; unable or unwilling to control headstrong generals; lacking strategic sense; and refusing to look beyond Germany's defeat to the problem posed by Russia. The cost in life and in the western powers' post-war position was immense.

In fact, though Montgomery says lots of warm and apparently genuine things about him, it's hard to escape the conclusion that Eisenhower (however good a politician) was a military incompetent.

The book also deals with the earlier war years, though not in great detail: several times Monty refers the reader to his previous publication on those campaigns, 'El Alamein to the River Sangro'. In fact the emphasis all round is on what happened in meetings and conferences rather than on the battlefield.

It is not an indulgent read; the style is as clipped and military as you would expect, though surprisingly engaging if you buy into the 'Monty' persona. Anyone who doesn't might find this as irritating as crumbs in bed. And it ends with his rather chilling vision of the future, and the need to allow ourselves to be annihilated, if necessary, to preserve our cherished British way of life.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review: Montys Memoirs, 5 Aug 2008
By 
Ann Newberry - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery (Paperback)
cracking book. by far the best account ive read on issues involved. monty gives a very fair analysis on all battles ad people involved. Very highly recommended
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reading, 19 Feb 2012
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This review is from: The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery (Paperback)
An excellent and far reaching outline of events in Europe during and after World War II. Still readable and thoroughly concise for the modern reader whether they student or just general reading for the average reader with an interest in the war.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MONTY SPEAKS HIS MIND, 4 July 2011
By 
MONTGOMERY (WASHINGTON, DC - U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery (Paperback)
In his own inimitable way, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery relates his life as a soldier in service to his country -- both in peace and during the First and Second World Wars --- which lasted 50 years (1908--58).

Born in Britain in 1887, Montgomery spent his early years in Tasmania, where his father, an Anglican priest, worked for a time. While Montgomery considered his father one of the prime influences in his life (along with his wife, Winston Churchill, and Dwight Eisenhower), he makes clear that there was no love lost between him and his mother, who showed him little care and affection as a child. Indeed, she would more often give him a hard time than not.

While Montgomery mainly speaks about his military career and the people who played key roles in said career, he speaks (albeit briefly) with deep love of his wife and son David.

All in all, an interesting memoir.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book review, 18 Jun 2013
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A very good read, gave me an insight into the war from Monty's point of view. A very balanced memoir.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 17 Jan 2013
By 
R. G. Lappage "Ritchie" (wiltshire) - See all my reviews
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A wonderful walk through Montys life and career. This book does not go into the details of the many battles that he was involved in as he has already written about them in his other books, instead he covers more of the strategic aims of the war.
He is remarkably honest about his interactions with other members of the military organisations that he worked for and alongside, especially Sir Winston Churchill and President Eisenhower.
I found it a very entertaining and informative book, especially towards the end when he looks at NATO and how the European countries interact with each other. It seems that things have changed little in the last fifty years.
The only downside was the price, i do feel that for a kindle edition it was quite expensive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 23 Aug 2014
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Excellent book by a remarkable man and true hero of this country:-) One of the best military commanders the world has ever seen
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best General of WWII, 31 Oct 2013
By 
W. Scott "elenkus" (Bute, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery (Paperback)
Having seen this man and heard his speeches while he was still alive, I formed the impression that he was ordinary.
Reading his memoirs recently changed everything. Here is the master. He is so much the master that his full value was never understood even by the other generals of his time, Eisenhower most of all.
The strategy for battle is simple. Deceive the enemy into putting his weight onto one side and make your attack on the other on a limited front. So in Normandy, the British take the force of the German panzers (650 tanks) leaving the Americans facing only 200 which they were easily able to break out of. The British were to stand fast and hold onto the heavier attacking Germans and retreat not at all, but it was a holding operation. How typical, then, that the American Press (& the soldiery) blamed the British for not doing enough. There too is the key to the problem that afflicts all American warfare: public opinion has a great influence upon the strategy. How disastrous that is and we have seen it recently in Afghanistan. The British really are better at this.
The Alamein Battle was won in the same way: deceive the enemy into expecting a northern attack towards the sea and go around the dangerous depression and attack on the other flank. And this too: wherever the attack is to be made it is made with the whole soul, the whole force available and even increased so that the pressure is piled on in that weaker place. Once the breakthrough is achieved, the enemy can be taken in the flank from the rear and mopped up, as the Italians were. in thousands.
In the attack on Germany, Eisenhower never understood the errors in his own plans. He favoured attacking all along the front which meant that the available supplies (of ammunition, food, kit etc) were thinly spread. Monty's idea of a move in one part along the northern seaboard about 80 miles wide was clearly far better. Punching a hole in the enemy defences would force them backwards all along the line as far as Switzerland. There then is another key principle: deceive the enemy as to the point of attack and put all your supplies in the place where he is weakest. So far from the base, supplies are crucial.
At Alamein, when some commanders ask to retreat, Monty tells them to go forward immediately or be replaced. The plan once set would be applied and no bellyaching or backsliding would be allowed even for an instant. The will to win and to stick to the plan is vital.
The book is marvellous because we read his reasons for doing everything from the original texts. Clarity of mind was a basic necessity and once the plan was formed, pressing it against everything was also vital. Rarely did Monty change anything. Leaving details to others was deliberate: it enabled him to be able to see the whole picture, not get bogged down in trivia.
The difference between the Generals who are fit only as Corps commanders and the overall commander is understood and correct. It is quite clear that most of the generals never have understood this fundamental difference.
Patton, we discover, was a prima donna always intent on grabbing the limelight and Ike even was so foolish as to go along with it: diverting supplies needed for the point of weakness, to support what should never have been necessary because of the initial plan which was too easily lost sight of. That was another of Monty's strengths: to stick to the plan agreed.
The other really essential ingredient of leadership is the ability to decide quickly and always get it right. How few generals ever had this basic requirement.
Leadership then is about:
1. Picking the right men and supporting them. If found unfit they are ruthlessly sacked, even on the field in the middle of the battle.
2. Attack the weak spot and arrange that it be concealed by deception.
3. The point of attack gets all the force, supplies etc.
4. Clear thinking on the plan is vital and the resolution to support the conclusion is absolutely essential, no matter what red herrings lesser minds try to impose.
5. Building morale by every available means: the Chief must speak to many of the troops and be one of them, close to the front and not a hundred miles back like so many in WW1.
6. The first essential in a commander is DECISION: instant and accurate: It must always be right. Whatever the cost.
Why did Monty fail at Arnhem? According to him, he made two mistakes, one of them dropping paras too far from the bridges which were not captured soon enough to admit tanks. The main error was not his: the failure to provide enough men and enough tanks at the places needed. There was also a failure of intelligence: 2 panzer divisions were resting nearby. Of course the Americans never understood the virtue of the Arnhem plan and messed up its execution: were even happy to see him fail. Patton for sure. As Trevor Royal points out: General Model, the German not far away had Monty's plans before the battle, having got them unexpectedly. So Monty was better than he knew.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for any leader or aspiring alpha male!, 13 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery (Paperback)
gret book, well written, lots of great thoughts and observastions on leadership! plus a good expalntion of the hitory behing the campaigns..

Also easy to read and written very well....
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 22 April 2011
By 
R. Packham "Ray Packham" (Brighton Sussex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery (Paperback)
Interesting how history has changed since revelations of Enigma and Bletchley park have come out, things he took credit for have now been identified as work by station X
still interesting book.
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