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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Book
I have read several books on the subject of the battle of Alamein, and this is probably the best. It has a simple straightforward narrative style, with a compelling story. The author deals with the usual controversies with a clear and fair approach, and is clearly non partisan, highlighting strengths and weaknesses for all the generals concerned, and succesfully...
Published on 18 May 2005 by Mike Tomlin

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4 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars El Alamein
The content of this book may be very good, as reveiwed by others.
I purchased this book to read prior to a visit to El Alamein.
Due to the small print, I decided it would be difficult to read and returned it.
Published on 5 Aug 2010 by David G. Relf


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Book, 18 May 2005
By 
Mike Tomlin (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I have read several books on the subject of the battle of Alamein, and this is probably the best. It has a simple straightforward narrative style, with a compelling story. The author deals with the usual controversies with a clear and fair approach, and is clearly non partisan, highlighting strengths and weaknesses for all the generals concerned, and succesfully navigating the reader onto the salient points of the time.
He goes into considerable detail in describing such matters as minefield clearance; inter arms co-operation, and problems; infantry, armour, and artillery tactics, and their development in the desert, in a way that no other book on this topic that I have read has done. I certainly came away from this feeling I understood far more than before I started.
The tone and language is clear and unemotional, and focuses on what the author believes to be the salient facts. Although time and analysis is devoted to the generals and thier subsequent squabbles, this book is not written from the point of view of the generals. Nor is it a soldiers story, in the sense of including lots of personal accounts and experiences. Rather this is the story of an Army, the 8th Army, and it's coming of age in a crucial period and through the trial of three major battles. It covers all it's components and support arms, plus the impressive contributions made by the Air Force and Navy. But primarily this is the story of 8th Army, it's development and experiences, it's training and the painful lessons it learned in the crucible of battle.
I would heartily recommend this to anyone wanting to read an impartial and logical book on the Alamein campaign.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Book, 19 May 2005
By 
Mike Tomlin (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I have read several books on the Alamein battles in the past, but this is without question the finest.
Most authors concentrate not only on the fighting, but on the controversy surrounding Auchinleck and Montgomery, and almost invariably take sides, supporting one general or the other. Sometimes an author will try to avoid this by concentrating on personal stories and experiences, leaving aside the big picture.
Niall Barr has done neither of these. He has sought to tell the story of an army and its coming of age in the cauldron of battle. The Eighth Army is his central character here and he concentrates on telling the story of the battles and how the army developed and responded through those challenges.
In doing this he does of course touch on the generals and their controversies, and the officers and men, and their stories. However, his narrative is clear and impartial, and the reader will be shown the strengths and weaknesses of all parties, including the Germans, with a clear logic and impartiality. It was this which impressed me most.
Additionally, he goes into great detail about the various components of Eighth Army - infantry, armour, artillery, engineers, armoured recovery teams etc - and details their roles and development in clear and interesting detail. Their responses to technical and tactical challenges are detailed and explained, and the reader can see the faults of the army going into these battles and understand the incremental development and improvements made to turn the army into a true fighting machine. At the end of this book I understood far more than before about the army's inner workings, and such detailed matters as techniques of mine lifting, artillery barrages, infantry tactics and amoured warfare.
The authors clear and lucid dispassionate style explains the Eighth Army struggles at Alamein far better than any previous book I have read. This is a book I would recommend to both the newcomer and the expert, and I can only hope that we will see more of the same from Mr Barr.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Desert strategy and tactics explained, 13 Dec 2010
By 
N. Brown (UK) - See all my reviews
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The series of battles fought around the El Alamein position in the summer and autumn of 1942 are both complex and surrounded with not a little myth. It seems that any battle in which Monty was in command has attracted controversy, much of it associated with the great General himself. Alamein is no exception to this but in this book the author tries hard to avoid becoming sucked into the usual debate between Monty's defenders and detractors. In my view this is to be welcomed as there are enough protagonists in that debate already and a bit of balance is surely overdue.

What made this work stand out for me were the author's efforts to explain both the tactics needed in the conditions of the Western Desert and the challenges of the theatre level strategy when dealing with extended supply lines. Readers get to understand the impact that the 2lb anti-tank gun had on limiting British & Commonwealth armoured tactics and the effects of Ultra signals intelligence on the Axis supply situation. It's unusual in my experience to encounter an author who clearly has such a sound grasp of all the elements that impact upon military operations. I think you would be hard put to find a better explanation of the how's, why's and what's of desert warfare including everything from small unit tactics to grand strategy. In the end you are drawn to the conclusion that it was not one factor that delivered an Allied victory but many different elements that all came together at the right time and place.

However, for those looking for the whole story there are some notable omissions. This is a work primarily focused on the British and Commonwealth point of view, with some reference to the thinking of German higher level command and little or nothing about the Italians. In addition, the voice of the ordinary soldiers is rarely heard whilst the author concentrates on the debates and planning between the Allied Generals. Whilst too much `trench level' views can become distracting from the big picture in some works I've read, it would have been nice to have a few more personal accounts to compliment the reporting of the events themselves.

Overall this is more a work I would recommend for those interested in the details of planning and execution of military operations rather than the experience of those who took part. For that reason I suspect that casual readers may find it a little dry so their tastes
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unbiassed history, 21 April 2009
By 
Robert Mitchell (Kings Heath, Birmingham) - See all my reviews
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The truth of what really happened in the desert is confused by Montgomery's hyperbole and sometimes plain downright lies. This sets the record straight and also illuminates Churchill's disastrous meddling in military matters. One can only thank God that Allanbrooke managed to control his romantic adventures. The treatment of Auchinleck was appalling.
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4.0 out of 5 stars biased towards Auchinleck., 31 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Pendulum Of War: Three Battles at El Alamein (Kindle Edition)
In many ways this is an excellent book, and I learned a lot about a battle I have read so much about. Having commented about the polarisation between Auchinleck and Montgomery, the Niall Barr falls Into the same trap and clearly is an 'Auk' fan. Yes, Monty wasn't a nice person, but he knew his business and took over a losing army and made it into a victorious force. As the Russians said, how can you criticise a general who never suffered a defeat? In contrast Auchinleck threw away winning positions and constantly lost men and materials we desperately needed.

Criticising Monty for being cautious because of his army's poor training, the author then admits that some units were going into action for the first time! It's Auchinleck this and Auchinleck that until Monty takes over and then he's barely mentioned. The credit for his leadership is given to everyone except the general who had no experience of the desert and yet turned us from failures into winners.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best!, 9 May 2013
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"Pendulum of War" offers everythiing that the scholar of the Battle of El Alamein could wish for. Detailed maps, compelling descriptions of the fighting, great technical detail, an insight into how the battle fitted into the grand strategic picture; it's all there. It does this without ascribing to the old-fashioned everybody-praise-Monty that marks out some older histories of the campaign, and it does not let the reader forget what a god-awful experience it must have been for an ordinary Giulio, Tommy or Hans to live through.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Niall Barr has produced an unbiased, comprehensive, analytical and critical study of the subject. Excellent!, 23 Mar 2013
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Excellent.
An analytical and critical appraisal of the battles from July to November 1942. Niall Barr has produced an unbiased and comprehensive study of the subject. I've been reading many accounts of these engagements and this is by far the best.
Although he does not take the individual soldier's point of view as the main viewpoint, his quotes from the time are used to very clearly illustrate the thinking of the generals and the troops. His comparisons of the command styles of Auchinlek, Montgomery are impeccable. This is probably the best analysis of the battles I have read a must read for anyone interested in this part of the history of World War 2.

If you want the thoughts and feelings of the soldiers at the front line Jame Holland's Together We Stand is better, but is diluted by covering a much longer period and lacks any analysis of the events.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book, 11 Feb 2010
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Nice mix of 'human' and 'military' aspects of these battles. I was especially pleased to see more on the first two battles, but even the October battle was much better explained than usual.
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4 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars El Alamein, 5 Aug 2010
By 
David G. Relf (UK) - See all my reviews
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The content of this book may be very good, as reveiwed by others.
I purchased this book to read prior to a visit to El Alamein.
Due to the small print, I decided it would be difficult to read and returned it.
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