Top critical review
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on 9 June 2017
In some respects this is an interesting and thought provoking book..
In other respects its a load of sanctimonious guff of epic proportions. The constant blether about asthma being all in the person's mind is offensive and dogmatic, even for a time when Austin Allegros roamed the earth.
The selective memory is another thing, blaming Hoess for snuggling up to astronomers and claiming that as a problem, yet completely forgetting to mention "Dowding, Hugh Caswell Tremenheere Dowding" a man so far out of his box that he'd have needed an Olympic size swimming pool to keep his collection of mystical psychoses (former lives, talking to spirits and dead colleagues, mysticism) that made Herr Hoess look positively stable by comparison. It has to be said that Dowding, despite the fact that he was nuttier than a fruitcake, was probably helped by this very fruitcakery to create the Chain Home system and the associated early warning network. Does he get a mention? Nope.
Our author carefully doesn't mention that Hitler's mother lost child after child before one survived, or that his father was a sociopathic nut job above and beyond the usual level of Victorian sociopathic nut jobbery. Much of the information he's based his conclusions on is outdated and much later information is missing by necessity so the conclusions aren't really valid.
The choice of inclusions and exclusions make little sense, Shaka Zulu is eulogized as the greatest general ever to hit a uniform (for a given value of uniform) but Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift aren't mentioned and his opponent, Lord Chelmsford, possibly the second biggest walking disaster area to hit the British army after Elphy Bey isn't mentioned once! (although to be scrupulously fair he wasn't helped by the Marconi-Henry rifle - which, combined with drawn brass cartridges, would have been more use as tent poles or possibly impromptu golf clubs.. It jammed as a matter of pride, and if all else failed cooked off the round in the chamber and did it's level best to blow its operators head off..
I do wonder what the author would have made of some of the more recent members of the general staffs and politicians around the world.. Dubya or Tony "WMD" Blair etc.
An interesting book but far out of date and oddly selective in who it chooses to discuss, not to mention the habit of discussing something half way and then wondering off on unrelated tangents - not to mention an obvious bias for not properly discussing WW2 "heroes" so as not to rock the apple cart (or hang out the paras). Montgomery almost without exception nicked the ideas of more talented men, was almost universally hated by his direct colleagues, and the one time he had an original idea it was a disaster (for which he blamed his subordinates) of epic proportion.
Recommended, with proviso that it's taken with a large dose of salt..