Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure genius.Period, 21 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Bridge Too Far (Paperback)
This is Cornelius Ryan's masterpiece dealing with the ill-fated Allied invasion of Holland in 1944.Unlike most other works on the subject,which tend to focus primarily on the Battle of Arnhem and the role of the 1st Airborne Division,this gem of a book goes into tremendous detail about the whole affair,basically encompassing a three-week period in September 1944,from the inception of Operation "Market-Garden" to its bitter conclusion. All points of view are covered,from the Allied commanders who devised the attack and those who fought in the subsequent battle,their German counterparts,the ordinary front-line soldiers(who at times are bemused and then cynical regarding the decisions made by the "brass hats") and of course not forgetting the populace of Arnhem and Oostersbeek,who welcomed the paratroopers as liberators,only to be swiftly disillusioned and who would then bear the brunt of the Nazi reprisals in the bleak winter of 1944-45. Mr.Ryan skilfully blends narrative with first person accounts in order to keep the story flowing.His superb way of describing the scenarios encountered,in particular the arrival of the airborne armadas over Holland,will stick in the mind long afterwards.(My personal favourite is in the fourth part of the book,when in one awesome paragraph,beginning with 'From the smoking ruins of Arnhem...',he captures the moment when the second lift of the airborne forces materialises over the battlefront AND the psychological effect of this upon the combatants.Magnificent!). Naturally the book is not without its flaws.Mr.Ryan is somewhat overfond of the term 'bolstered' and sprinkles it around liberally.He also seems to lose count of the number of airborne troops involved,thus the total number of paratroopers mentioned seems well in excess of the 35000 who were actually dropped in over the nine days of the operation.Then there is the query over the odd fact or two(for instance,one of the recipients of the Victoria Cross,whom he describes as being killed in action,was actually captured and died later in a POW camp). However these are all minor quibbles and in no way detract from the storyline.To me though,the most staggering accomplishment about this book is that it was written while Mr.Ryan was terminally ill with cancer and towards the end,he was struggling to stay alive just to finish it.(He died shortly after its completion in 1974). By itself the book is excellent.Add to this that it was penned by a dying man(and was in fact his whole raison d'etre)and only one description will suffice:Pure Genius.Period
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4.8 out of 5 stars (48 customer reviews)
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