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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Documented and Researched, 3 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Dunkirk: The Men They Left Behind (Kindle Edition)
Not quite a 5*.

The narrative covers the immediate events leading to Dunkirk and many cameos may be remembered from the film Dunkirk. As Longden is at pains to point out, and the raison d'etre for the book, the battle for France did not end at Dunkirk. Longden uses the technique of a broadsweeping review that then focusses on the individual and frequently harrowing tales of individual soldiers. This is not a book for the faint hearted and will not feature high on German best-seller lists. It is well written, well researched and well sourced with a comprehensive list of sources making this a scholarly tome.

What detracts from the tale and is ultimately inexcuseable in a book that is intrinsically a first rate history are numerous howlers when he talks numbers. Britain is not 20 miles across the sea from Dunkirk. The nearest land is Ramsgate some 40 miles distant. The loss of 31 out of 71 bombers is a loss of 44% not 56%; 56% was the percentage that survived. Wholly indecypherable is the statement that two defensive lines were attempted around Brest, one at 100 miles (30 kilometres) and the other at 40 miles (12 kilometres).

Finally some 'shocking' figures are not as shocking as apparently presented. He evidenced that 76 prisoners had to share just 5 toilets. As recently as 1992 the Health and Safety at Work Act code of practice suggests 5 toilets for 76-100 workers. Now I accept that the provision in the Stalag would be rather more austere that a modern workplace but the numbers of toilets are actually quite good for a POW camp.

My criticisms in the previous two paragraphs should not however detract from the value of this book as an excellent reference to those that were left behind. If reprinted I hope the author corrects these errors.
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