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on 6 January 2011
What this guy doesn't know about Operation Market Garden probably isn't worth knowing.
Having read a few accounts from the Allied perspective, this book's interpretation of events from the point of view of the Germans was fascinating. Kershaw's position is, essentially, that there has been too much focus upon the failure of the operation as a result of Allied mistakes; he examines the extraordinarily effective response the Germans managed to put together - still reeling from their defeat at Normandy, cobbling together troops who were often too young/inexperienced to have undergone any combat. An appreciation of the bravery of the Arnhem landings - and their ultimately tragic conclusion - is certainly not diminished by this re-focus; indeed, I came away with even more admiration as Kershaw makes it clear that the Allied troops faced a far more formidable enemy than might have been expected - and that the airborne troops actually did all that was asked of them. I thoroughly recommend it if you have more than a passing interest in the Arnhem landings.
The author has been let down by the publisher, though. They've been publishing this, in a number of editions, for many years - so a decent copy editor should have spotted the typo's (and, frankly, some clunky grammar at times). Far worse is the transformation to the current paperback edition. Throughout the text, there are references to specific photographs which aren't supplied and you get the sense of missing maps. Eventually, frustrated, I bought a secondhand copy of the out of print illustrated version: virtually every page has photographs or explanatory diagrams/maps - and suddenly everything makes sense. It's like finding out there's a video of something you thought only existed as a radio programme. The current paperback edition has some lousy, indecipherable maps in the middle with a ridiculous key (grey = wooden area; grey = town; grey line = road; grey line = river); you buy the illustrated version and realise it's because they've lazily copied a full colour map into a black and white version which can't cope with the distinction between blues and greens.
It's all very well trying to produce an affordable edition, but it still has to make sense.
DO buy this - Kershaw is great - but try to get the older edition with photographs/maps.
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on 4 April 2001
Kershaws book is phenomenally enlightening from the Axis perspective of operation Market Garden. This is pure military history entwined with personal accounts of German soldiers who fought either the British, Polish or American airborne troops in the three 'theatres' of the airborne landings or XXX Corps advance through the corridor.
Whilst most contemporary western accounts depicte Market Garden as an heroic and desperate battle by airborne troops overwhelmed by superior German armoured forces, Kershaw has taken great pains to project the alternative view in terms of the rapid organisation and improvisation of ad-hoc German forces that were committed to the various combat areas in order to stem the tide.
Kershaws book effectively conveys the suffering and loss of a variety of German military personal who were unexpectively thrown into a major battle that they had neither expected nor were initially prepared to deal with.
For any student truly interested in "the full picture" of Market Garden, not only from the generally accepted allied synopsis of the battle but also from the lessor known Axis perspective (especially in terms of the rapid ad-hoc improvisation and organisation that the German command structure implemented to deal with this major threat to the Rhine) this is a book that will certainly not disappoint.
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on 15 August 2002
This is probably the best account of the German side of Operation Market Garden in English. The author, a British Parachute regiment officer, used German sources while he was based in Germany to find out what happened from the other side of the hill. It is a fascinating account and dispels some of the myths about the battle, especially the controversy over whether there were really two full panzer divisions in the area when the Operation took place. He uses German ration returns and maintenance reports to show what was there for definite and uses his military knowledge to fill in the few gaps with reasonable guesses. In all he paints a different picture to the popular histories.
If you are seriously interested in Market Garden then you must buy this book, it is an invaluable resource.
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on 25 August 2011
I had three very personal reasons for reading this book. Firstly my father fought at Arnhem and was captured at Nijmegen as a German Para. Secondly, I served in the Parachute Regiment and obviously Arnhem was one of the battle honours but more than that I served with men who had been there (on the Allied side). So from my father I heard one side, from my colleagues I'd heard the other side, plus, thirdly, I was one of those who jumped at Arnhem for the film "A Bridge Too Far" in the early 70s.
With all that behind me I had never realised how intense and chaotic the battles were around Arnhem. Not just one battle, numerous individual intense battles, making a whole.
Robert Kershaw's book is a must read. I couldn't put it down, I wanted to know what happened next in this or that particular encounter. Although I, as does everyone, knew the final result, I did not realise how extremely close it was. Mr Kershaw uses brief quotes through his narrative from soldiers on the ground who were there, thus drawing you in until you can virtually hear the grenades going off. Excellent and totally enthralling. I might have known the result but quite honestly there were times when I didn't know who to cheer for!!
I can understand when one of the German veterans in the book laughs at the film "A Bridge Too Far".
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on 14 December 2012
This book is a great idea: an analysis from the German perspective of how they responded to and contained the Allied airborne assault in Holland.

Previous accounts have tended to dwell on the Allied experience, with the Germans usually somewhat anonymous. Kershaw's account sets out how very adept the Germans were at improvising a defence, using literally the scrapings of the rear echelon: old men, convalescent wounded, conscripted police, naval "battalions" comprised of the crews of lost or blockaded ships, and so on, with just a stiffening of SS veterans. Odd tanks, trucks and half tracks were cobbled, together with whatever infantry could be found, into ad hoc forces that were pitted against elite paratroopers, and won.

Essentially the German strategy was to delay the advance of the relief force while simply containing the various paradrops, their idea being that if the relief column could be halted the airborne forces would inevitably have to capitulate.

Quite a lot of German WW2 tactical practice made it into post-war NATO doctrine, something on which Kershaw - as a former parachute officer himself - speaks with great authority. The German (and NATO) response to the dropping of paratroopers behind the main line was to counterattack them immediately with any troops to hand whatever, regardless of losses, in order to prevent their cohesion and to separate them from their existing and expected supplies. This worked perfectly at Arnhem, where an elite paratroop division was defeated by probably the worst troops Germany had yet fielded. There were crack SS troops there too, but the advance to the bridge was halted by poor quality rear echelon forces who dug in tenaciously and would not be dislodged.

Although the paras at Arnhem were eventually heavily outgunned, they were beaten before the tanks arrived by the German tactics. Meanwhile, for the German commander Model, the real battle was the one to block the advance, a battle he duly won and with - it appears - inferior numbers and minimal air support.

The paperback edition of the book suffers from a severe lack of decent maps - there are hardly any and it is impossible to work out on those there are what's a road, what's a river, and so on. The narrative contains lots of descriptions along the lines of how this unit formed up at this town and then attacked this other town, but it's often hard to figure out where these places are and the account loses coherence because of it. The hardback, it appears, is quite a lot better.

Recommended overall but the paperback loses two stars for being a bit baffling.
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on 12 September 2006
This book is an outstanding piece of work, and invaluable to anyone who wants a balanced view of Operation Market-Garden.

The entire operation is covered, from top to bottom, from the German perspective, and not just those actions around the Arnhem and Oosterbeek areas. Liberally illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs, many I hadn't seen elsewhere before, and with colour and black-and-white maps, and rounded off with an excellent Appendix at the back of the book that details the Order-of-battle of the many varied Axis units involved in trying to contain the Allies daring push into Holland. Considering the German practice of assembling 'kamfgruppes' from all manner of sources of equipment and manpower, this section alone is worthy of high praise.

The author has done an excellent job in providing considerable insight into the actions and decisions of the leaders and men who prevented this Operation from achieving it's goals. Anyone who has studied this particular part of the late war North-West Europe campaign would do well to include this book in their library. Highly recommended.
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on 17 July 2009
Having read many books on Arnhem,being a reader,collector & buff on World
War2, I can say without any hesitation that "It never snows in September"
is, without any doubt the best written and above all the most honest and
truthful account of this epic battle during World War2. I strongly recomend all interested parties to read this book, even if you are already
in the middle of another version of "Market Garden, put it down and buy
"It never snows in September". You will not regret it. The only regret that I have, is that I never bought the Hard cover. Sid Scarsbrook.
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on 28 August 2011
Very well researched and written, 'It Never Snows...' gives a fair judgement on Market Garden from the German side. It balances honest personal accounts from ordinary soldiers up to the top brass with comprehensive unit histories and places these in an easy to follow narrative. The operation's importance and objectives in the light of the hard-won Normandy campaign in addition to the Allied underestimation of the German abilities despite their losses in France leaves a bad taste - a lot was lost (from the Allied perspective) as a result of the appalling arrogance of planners and high command.
I was surprised by several interesting facts, including the consternation of some British paras at just how few Germans were combating them at times. Also, the idea that only Soviets and Germans maltreated prisoners is categorically debunked - Americans and Poles (in particular) tortured and killed prisoners and, out of convenience, wounded enemy soldiers were dispatched out of hand - by the US 82nd Airborne the Nijmegen bridge for example. That this is mentioned at all in this history is at odds with the idea that this campaign is remembered as an 'honorable' one in which even Waffen SS units respected the rule of law.
Also, though some of the German units in the Arnhem area turned out to be elite, most were second line, very young or inexperienced troops in action for the first time, with officers varying in quality from brazenly gung-ho but courageous to utterly inept. Nonetheless, the book strives to bring home the quality of German tactical adaptability in the face of looming defeat.
There are chinks of humanity showing too, notably mentions of prisoner exchange and truces for the collection of the wounded and dead and, in general, the Brits come out reasonably well, with German units quickly recognizing these are the fairest foe and treating them accordingly.
All in all a great read, well paced and with enough meat on the bone detail to reward both the casual history or military student or someone looking to dig deeper.
Very highly recommended.
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on 8 March 2004
An absolute must for informing yourself about this famous battle. Kershaw was a British Army officer stationed in West Germany, charged with tactically assessing the German ability to reform and resist an overwhelming allied airborne attack on the strategically vital Rhine bridges.
The lessons for such a battle in 1980s NATO planning are obvious, and Kershaw's is a spellbinding account which is detailed but never dry. The German ability to improvise units and fight with great determination so very quickly gave the lightly armed airborne units a sever mauling.
Also chilling is the description of the Dutch SS units who fought hard as their cause seemed at its very nadir...
Outstanding military history which seems to confirm Max Hasting's findings in 'Overlord' about some allied unit's hesitance and lack of drive: who wants to be the last 'Citizen Soldier' to die to liberate Europe?
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on 30 April 2009
I recommend this book. It will probably appeal to those who have read quite a lot about this subject already and therefore, know much of the story, though perhaps from the other side of the fence. By concentrating on the German side this book provides a slightly different slant to the facts already known. Before jotting down my thoughts here I read some of the other reviews. There have been a few negative thoughts but I do not believe these are bourne out when reading the book and I would suggest that anyone interested in this subject will find this a very interesting read providing much insight into the methods adopted by the Germans. The book goes a long way to explaining the reasons for the allies "failure", outlining the strength of the German staff and the "diehard" performance of the troops, as much as the terrain difficulties faced by the allies. Definitly deserves to be read in conjunction with other histories of the battle.
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