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Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke Paperback – 14 Mar 2002
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The first complete and unexpurgated edition of the war diaries of Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke - the most important and the most controversial military diaries of the modern era.
About the Author
John Keegan in his review of ALCHEMIST OF WAR in The Spectator described Danchev as "one of the two most brilliant people [he] taught at Sandhurst". He is currently Professor of International Relations at Keele.
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This book is lengthy, and for the most part contains a direct transcription of Alanbrooke's diaries. There are notes added by the man himself when the diaries were published in limited form in collaboration with Arthur Bryant in the late 1950's. This allows, for example, Alanbrooke to express regret for his stinging criticism of Dudley Pound (First Sea Lord) during the war as he had later become aware that Pound was suffering from a brain tumour that eventually killed him. The diaries cover not only Alanbrooke's time as Chief of the Imperial General Staff, but also as commander of II Corps in France and as Commander-in-Chief Home Forces in 1940-41. The diary entries are usually made before Alanbrooke retires to bed, and you can almost feel the tension when he believes that invasion is imminent in September 1940, given he will have been the one tasked to keep the Germans at bay. There are many personal criticisms, with de Gaulle and Eisenhower in particular not faring well. Churchill's strategic vision, particularly his desire to invade Sumatra, is not well regarded by Alanbrooke, but you can tell that Alanbrooke also greatly admires Churchill's leadership and is fond of him on a personal level. All of the major wartime conferences are covered, including major disagreements with the American Chiefs of Staff.
I thought that I understood World War Two pretty well before I read this book, but it was so incredibly enlightening to read the personal thoughts of someone who was so integral to the conduct of the war from the Allied point of view. It left me wondering that if without Alanbrooke's strong desire to concentrate on the Mediterranean (even though he apparently couldn't spell it) first we may have seen the Americans, and to a lesser extent Stalin, successfully argue for a premature invasion of France in 1943 or even 1942. If you wish to understand World War Two and why the Allied leaders came to the decisions that they did, this book is invaluable.
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