Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle  Learn more Countdown to Prime Day Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promises more than it Delivers, 12 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Britain's War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War (Paperback)
The author very consciously sets out to disprove myths re. the British State and its alleged lack of military preparation for the Second World War and its ability to fight the war.

Some bits are good. As he points out, Britain was not alone in 1940. It had the undefeated Empire to support it. The big disaster was not Dunkirk but the fall of Singapore, economically, as he points out (but politically, too, which he doesn't highlight). He persuasively highlights the immense difficulties of the Germans invading the United Kingdom in the immediate aftermath of the retreat at Dunkirk. The same difficulties applied in 1944 for the Allies, travelling the other way to France.

His book is about the key British politicians - Churchill very much at the helm - the engineers and the scientists who were part of Britain's War Machine. Although the book starts off very promisingly I found myself getting lost in a fog of facts and figures that dilute, rather than reinforce a point he is making. This point is made too by a Three Star Amazon reviewer of the hardback version of the book.

Although he footnotes in twenty two lines (yes: twenty two!) the movements of one ship (in Chapter 7) to make a very small point, he gives virtually no Chapter and Verse and scant footnotes to British chemical warfare preparations, which he briefly mentions. In concluding pages he makes the astounding and unproven assertion that chemical warfare was used on the Eastern front, with no evidence! The expression he uses is 'improvised poison gases'. No evidence, no footnotes!

The 'Improvised poison gases' that this reviewer is aware of were those used by the Russians in their improvised mobile killing wagons - a lesson learnt by the German SS.

His treatment of the 3 million Indians who died of starvation in Bengal in 1943 is skewered by his 'Men and the Machines' approach. To his credit he does mention this appalling famine. But he doesn't mention that was it was aggravated (some might argue caused) by political decisions by Churchill, who also blocked aid to the area. The comparisons with Stalin and the millions who died in the Ukraine are telling. (see Madhusree Murkerjee's 'Churchill's Secret War'). But all of this is irrelevant to Edgerton's 'take' on the war.

There is a lot of stimulating material, and conclusions in the book, but it is a bit like being in a touring car in a foreign land - a land you thought you knew - that gives you unexpected vistas, and then unexpectedly gets bogged down in quicksand until it is dug out, is on its way, more vistas and then more long periods in quicksand, and so on. This blunts the experience. Within the small number of books that examine the myths of Britain and the British experience in the Second World War this is very significant contribution. Having read it, you will never ever be able to think of some of the well polished myths in the same way. But it would have been even better with an effective editor.

If you are interested in the myths that cloak the role and experience of Britain and the British in the Second World War, then the book is worth reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Track comments by e-mail
Tracked by 1 customer

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Dec 2012 12:22:28 GMT
Good points re evidence and other sources!

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Dec 2012 16:50:03 GMT
Pete Grafton says:
Thanks for you kind comments re. my review of 'Britain's War Machine'. I'm the author of 'You, You & You! The People Out of Step with World War Two' (1981) second-hand copies are listed on I plan to e-publish the original longer version of the book by late Spring, 2013.

The interesting thing about getting closer to the historical truth is that it has no effect at all on the myths in the collective consciousness (usually fenced by belonging to a country, or religion (think Ulster). Every time I'm in Paris there are more plaques sprouting up, like mushrooms, celebrating a fallen 2nd World War resistance member. It seems to be in inverse proportion to trying to keep discussion about collaboration with the Nazis muffled.

I'd be happy to exchange views on truth, history, etc. Best wishes, Pete.

Posted on 18 Nov 2014 21:54:17 GMT
Squeeth says:
You might want to take a look at Tauger's work on the famine in India before you endorse all of Mukerjee's findings.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Nov 2014 10:51:39 GMT
Pete Grafton says:
Thanks for that suggestion. I'll certainly follow it up.
Best wishes, Pete.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›