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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Montgomery book
This book on Bernard Montgomery is excellent it gives not only the good points but also the bad points in his distinguished military career, the photographs of not only the man himself but also the battle drawings are excellent
Published on 28 Jan 2012 by Joe

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed publisher
This 64 page book costs 12, about 5 pages a pound. About 24,000 words: 2,000 words for a pound, then.
The book designer and illustrator are good: the cover is arresting. They have done what the publisher wanted: to produce something that looks good, especially on the outside. BUT on page 3 there is a diagram with many important symbols, without which the maps in the...
Published 6 months ago by W. Scott


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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Montgomery book, 28 Jan 2012
This review is from: Bernard Montgomery (Command) (Paperback)
This book on Bernard Montgomery is excellent it gives not only the good points but also the bad points in his distinguished military career, the photographs of not only the man himself but also the battle drawings are excellent
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed publisher, 13 Dec 2013
By 
W. Scott "elenkus" (Bute, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bernard Montgomery (Command) (Paperback)
This 64 page book costs 12, about 5 pages a pound. About 24,000 words: 2,000 words for a pound, then.
The book designer and illustrator are good: the cover is arresting. They have done what the publisher wanted: to produce something that looks good, especially on the outside. BUT on page 3 there is a diagram with many important symbols, without which the maps in the book are unintelligible. These are too small to be read! And there is a huge waste of space all around it on the same page! Catastrophe! Not to use that space to show the symbols was mad.
The maps are no good: should have been given the entire page in every case. The maps of the battles are really poor: do not explain as they should. On p36 it us very hard to see Caen, on which the entire battle of Normandy hinges. How can the text be understood when the town of most importance can hardly be seen at all? Making the map the full length of the page would have done it easily; but the printing of the place names should have been big enough to be read easily. Moreover, the maps are not very clearly explained. Monty's own maps are miles better.
On p35 there is an artist's rendering of men coming off a landing craft. It is a good painting. It would have cost money. It does nothing for the book: we have seen it all before on film for real so often. Why waste the money on this scene?
Yet p36 and p37 are good: photos are there to bolster the text, or so they should. But they do not essentially apply to that text: another mistake many publishers make: a picture should be necessary and should be beside the text that makes it so.
All these pages, these mere 64 pages, are full of wasted space. Therein is the insight that counts. Monty, who had it in abundance, would agree: the publisher thinks the public is too dumb to take many words on a page. But that is what a book is for: to explain and do so clearly and, if possible, movingly and inspiringly.
The picture on p27 is good, assuming there is no real picture available. Probably, there is. When you only have 64 pages why would you waste a whole page on a scene with Monty and some colleagues? Not a good idea. None are important apart from Monty.
How good is the text? Here is a sentence on p21: 'Unfortunately the work of X Corps' mine-clearance teams was badly delayed due to pockets of enemy resistance, who failed to clear and mark passages through the minefields that night.'
Did the pockets of enemy resistance fail to clear and mark the passages through the minefields? Of course not. The sentence is not good enough: unclear, confusing.
Is the text any good as history, as an account of a general? Some of the judgements are wrong, some are simply the standard stuff reissued, when an original view, justified, would have been better. Moreman (the author) refers on p62 to: '[Monty's] limited ability to adjust his methods to rapidly changing operational situations.' Not so! See Trevor Royle's book: by Arnhem, Monty had 40 Gallopers (middle ranking officers) who went all over the battle area and reported back on the state of it. Nobody ever had a better understanding of what was happening and Monty did change tack on occasion because of it: eg Alamein.
I do not agree with the standard view that Monty was not a great general. He was the best of WWII (I think) because he had that most elusive and necessary quality: insight. He knew his business and he could see what it would take to win and his preparations were marvellous. Having it, knowing it, he told the truth all the time and fired from the hip. What else was he to do? Would diplomacy have got him the supplies he needed to fight the battle his way? No. Only bloodymindedness and determination. He was not liked by some folk? Of course not, firing incompetents is not a task where kindness can count: only getting the right man in the job to win the war. At times, his resolution was not enough: Eisenhower was too soft, allowed Patton to run riot and so supplies that should have gone to Monty were dribbled all along the front from Switzerland to the sea, instead of being concentrated at the single place of attack: Arnhem. Churchill had the same problem: he left the Admiralty and lost control of the execution of the Gallipoli adventure. That is why it failed. The reasons for it were excellent but when he left, they were soon lost sight of; the plan incompetently executed by people who did not fully understand it. That is the key to the art of generalship: Insight: cleverness. The ability to see what no one else can see. That is why Monty was a great general: world class; and why so many lesser generals do not see it: they were not good enough to see it. They focused on inessentials like vainglory, after the events, and being difficult with other generals, because, seeing so much, he could not do otherwise. The ability to compromise was not something he valued. Of course not! He saw and he wanted to act and he had the self belief to do so. These are not the crimes they are taken to be by mediocre folk.
This book is far too expensive for what it contains.
There is no mention of the fact (Royle gives) that the Germans had the plans for the Arnhem battle beforehand (got hold of them unexpectedly) so they knew what was coming and where. That is the key to their success: not Monty's mistake dropping paras too far from bridges. The book is without references: another dumbing down. Any serious work should have references. The map of events at Alamein is very disappointing.The writing in it is only for children with excellent vision, again. Even then the text is not very clear. I do not think the course of the battle is even accurate. When you have a book as big as that it should be utilised to give large maps and the explanations need to be far better. That is why you have a book that size: because maps can be shown to advantage.
This publisher does not understand what a good book is, that is the problem. Making money should never be the first thing.
Is it original: does it say important things not available elsewhere? Is everything clearly explained? Is the subject interesting? Does it have any special qualities of insight or knowledge or inspiration? These are the things that count.
No worthy publisher should jump on an existing bandwagon. Alas, many seek to do nothing else. Seeking the gravy on the train as if that will slake the appetite. Publishers, the best at least, exist to make the world a better place by advancing our knowledge, understanding, experience; not to increase their quantity of treasure, though they manage this all the same. Look at some of Bloomsbury's books: the ones on Cochrane and Ramanujan both recent. These are beautiful productions, magnificently written, fascinating to read and excellently produced. Of course, JK Rowling's winnings were helpful. Look too at 'Shameless and Immoral' by Rev Helen Percy, published by Glendaruel (Derick Rodger) on a shoestring. That is a brilliant feat of publishing, all brains and courage too. A marvellous demolition of the continual moral failure of the Church of Scotland.
So: publisher, you might think the public want a simple thing to browse. Not so! Provide the best and the public will praise you for it, bless you even. They are far cleverer than you imagine. Cleverer than you, many of them, for sure.
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