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VINE VOICEon 10 April 2010
Loyd Clark's 'Arnhem' is the book currently holding prime position as the 'set text' on the famous (infamous?) Operation Market Garden and it's not bad, but - as someone who's read an awful lot of books on this battle - it's not that good either.

Clark relies on very familiar sources - Stephen Ambrose's 'Band of Brothers' and Roy Urquhart's 'Arnhem' - and, though he quotes from the late Robin Neillands' fascinating 'The Battle for the Rhine 1944', he does not appear to have read it. Clark does not even discuss Neillands' central contention - that the critical full stop of Market Garden was at Nijmegen due to a failure by the US forces to grab the bridge necessitating XXX Corps having to stop and help them - which is disappointing. Worse, Clark chooses to print - unchallenged - the view that the Brits - effectively - sat down for a cup of darjeeling after the Nijmegen Bridge was taken instead of pressing on to Arnhem to relieve the hard-pressed Ist Airborne Division. Neillands argues that the tank forces were spread all over the town helping the US 82nd Aiborne when the bridge was finally seized by British Shermans, which explains the pause; unquestioned by the Americans until post-war memoirs. Neillands might be wrong, but, from this book, you would not even know there was a debate.

Clark also indulges in rather tired Monty bashing. Yes, Montgomery was a difficult man, but he undoubtedly knew what he was about. Clark quotes - rightly - from Charles B McDonald, Official US Army historian and junior officer in 1944, stating that the infantrymen didn't care who was in charge, just that the war was over and they got home, but fails to recognise that Montgomery's insistence on the Ruhr as the key to German capitulation was correct. Monty was a pain - 'detestable' as Neillands, quoted in this book, says - but so what? If he had been fully backed with proper supplies and troops,then the war could have been ended quicker, which matters considering how many Jews were sent to death camps in the last few months of the Nazi regime. Eisenhower, for all his post-war glow, allowed vital supplies to head towards Patton, who was not breaking into such a vital area. For that, the supreme commander has a lot to answer for.

The book is lucid and an easy read, but - if you know anything about the strategic situation in September 1944 - curiously one-dimensional for a lecturer from Sandhurst. He concludes the air plan for Arnhem was at fault which is so obvious that it comes across as stale.

I have no doubt there will be a better, more comprehensive book on Arnhem out before too long, but - as things stand - this is about the best around if you can't face the broad-sweep inaccuracies of Cornelius Ryan's 'A Bridge Too Far' or the slightly anoraky, painfully detailed 'Arnhem 1944' by Martin Middlebrook. I was a bit disappointed, though, and would recommend the Neillands book to everyone. It's not all about Arnhem, but the chapters dealing with Market Garden are the freshest words on the battle written in decades.
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on 21 October 2008
I bought this book having read the excellent review in the Daily Telegraph and was not disappointed. I have read several books about Arnhem, but none have the readability of this one. Yes, I know all about 'A Bridge Too Far', but it's outdated and not a little confusing in places. This book by Clark blends the latest scholarship with the thrill of a great story briliantly told. It is not, it should be said, just about Arnhem (although that battle takes up half of the book) but is about British and American airborne warfare more generally. It includes an excellent chapter on the selection, training and character of airborne troops, and ends with three chapters on the Rhine Crossing in March 1945 which involved two airborne divisions. This, therefore, is a book for those intersted in the Second World War, those fascinated by 1944-45 in Europe and those who devour anything about the airborne method. To top it all off, it is so well written that you just drink it down. The main characters are wonderfully described, you really get to understand the soldier in action and the battle scenes just leap off the page. I'm not a historian, but it looks to me that all of this is backed by an incredible amount of research and lots of interviews. In summary, a great book. Buy it and you won't be disappointed.
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on 26 January 2009
Like the previous reviewer, I enjoyed this work immensely and it made more compelling reading than the other work I read at the same time, 'A Magnificent Disaster' (sorry, harsh but fair).

I would recommend this book to anyone with a serious or passing interest in the two Operations covered.


- Great maps and excellent pictures, some being quite new to publication

- Great coverage of Operation Plunder Varsity, if a little short

- Fresh perspective on command decisions and the Commanders

- Liked the focus on Arnhem but the linkages through to other elements of the Operation worked very well

- Found the author to be very balanced and objective rather than just taking one side or the other, as is the case with many other books on this topic.


- Would have liked a bit more coverage of Op Plunder Varsity !

Overall an excellent read and one definitely for the book collection of anyone interester in WW2 military history.
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on 31 December 2012
For another book to appear about Arnhem in 2008 after the veritable cornucopia that have been published on this subject over the years there has to be something special to make it stand out for the reader. To this end, the author compares and contrasts the airborne attacks at Arnhem in September 1944 with crossing the Rhine in March 1945, although the second attack is almost an appendix.

However, in total, the book as a great disappointment. Firstly he appears to be an apologist for Montgomery and further, skates over the substantial failings of the various British Army commanders.

He also toes the party line in reiterating that operation Market Garden "was a risk worth taking" If the objective was too obtain a bridgehead as a threat to later envelop the Ruhr as Eisenhower wanted then, yes, the operation had merit. However, Montgomery had the view that having a one road corridor up to Arnhem would be a (relatively) quick springboard towards Berlin. This was totally unrealistic as:

a) the substantial German Fifteenth was still located to the west of the Market Garden salient and had to be neutralised before anything else otherwise the flanks were continually exposed (apart from other German troops in the northern Netherlands),
b) the port of Antwerp had yet to be brought into service as a first priority because logistics to the forward armies were at breaking point,
c) to go from Arnhem to Berlin would mean crossing a further three major river systems, the Ems, Weser and Elbe. Additionally there were numerous small rivers flowing south to north across the North German Plain which would have slowed progress,
d) linked to this, the ground in the North German Plain had a high water table. Progress for tanks after October 1944 with winter rains would also have been very slow at best,
e) in September 1944 there were still a good number of German tanks available for defence east of the Rhine. This would not, of course, be the case after the Ardennes offensive
f) the many thousands of 88mm dual purpose artillery pieces located in the Ruhr and major conurbations en route to Berlin could have been rapidly switched from anti aircraft to anti tank duties. The 88 mm piece was a very effective tank destroyer.

However the real villain of the piece in Arnhem is General Browning. Lloyd Clark alludes to this on pp 112-113 where General Ridgway cautions General Gavin against the "machinations and scheming of General Browning". However nothing more was mentioned. The best comparison of Browning to previous British military commanders are the buffoons Raglan and Cardigan in the Crimean War. Browning owed his position to Churchill, basically because Browning was a Guards officer (Guards could do no wrong in Churchill's book) and a fellow alcohol abuser. Browning required 38 craft (taken away from the initial Arnhem allocation) to transport his headquarters to Nimwegen where he ensconsed himself in a palatial residence and effectively did nothing else.

Browning had a duty to the people under his charge to pass on adverse intelligence reports so that tactics on the ground at Arnhem could be amended to counter this threat. This he deliberately failed to do - he was more interested in garnering glory for himself. General Gale of 6th Airborne also warned Browning that not landing very near the Arnhem bridges could lead to disaster, but Browning just requested Gale to keep silent on the matter.

Worst of all, Major General Sosobowski, commander of the Polish Paratroop Brigade was made a scapegoat by Generals Thomas, Horroocks, Adair and Browning after the Valburg conference at as a result of the shambles of Market Garden, as his prognosis that unrealistically poor planning would lead to failure was right on the nail. The main instigator of this kangaroo court was Browning, and shows senior British Army commanders to be moral cowards of the first order - reminiscent of the Generals blaming subalterns in the First World War. This is not mentioned at all by Lloyd Clark, but as he is a lecturer at Sandhurst, perhaps this is not unexpected. "Never bite the hand that feeds you" is always a good motto in the British military establishment.

To reinforce the intellectual feebleness of British Army Generals, Lloyd Clark quotes Sir Neil Ritchie (pp 288-289) stating that 1 Commando Brigade would be "the first British troops to cross the Rhine, not even Marlborough attempted it" There was the caveat that Ritchie thought his military history was a little rusty - I suppose Ritchie imagined that Marlborough's army travelled from Koblenz to Blindheim (near Ulm) by magic carpet and never crossed a river.

There is also evidence of sloppiness in the book. On p 73 is stated that paratroopers as part of their training were expected to run 200 yards in full battle gear in 16 seconds, an amazing feat as the current world record is 10.1 seconds for 100 yards.

On the plus side, the maps are clear and helpful which would assist the reader understand the military action.

In short, as a surface description of the military action (plus Chapter 3 on paratrooper training) the book is adequate. If you are looking for more detailed and real penetrating analysis then you have to look elsewhere.
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on 15 December 2009
Having seen the film "A Bridge Too Far" I thought it would be good to see how accurate it was. Having seen this in the shops and read a book by the author on another world war two battle I thought I would give it a go. It was an excellent read and really enlightened me. Although the film is not 100% accurate it more or less parodies the book. Basically Operation Market Garden whilst a bold plan was never going to succeed in getting to Arnhem in the time needed to support the British 1st Parachute Division. So it was in effect a disaster waiting to happen. The book however, also explains another operation that involved British and American forces which was the actual crossing of the Rhine. I would definantly 100% recommend this book especially if you are interested in military history and the second world war.
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on 11 February 2009
This is simply a superb book. It is pacey and full of brutal, gritty reality of the violence of war and especially the struggle of Operation Market Garden. It has motivated me to continue to read and research more on this vital phase of WWII - read this book, you will not be disappointed.
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on 29 March 2011
the book brought out the facts of operation market garden by those who still remain alive today un believable facts and compelling reading from start to finish for those who love military history
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on 8 August 2010
This book starts right after the break out out of Normandy in August 1994 and ends after completing Plunder Varsity in March 1945.
Plenty of attention has been paid to decision making processes at the higher levels of command without sacrifcing on first person accounts
from both the Allied side as well as the Axis side.Lloyd Clark's writing style makes this non-fiction book eminently readable and well paced.
In my opinion it's a good introduction to the Allied operations within the given time period and allowing you (if you want to) go deeper into
the matter by reading more about f.e. Arnhem, soldier's accounts or divsional histories.
I read quite a lot of books of this period as I hail from Arnhem where Market Garden is still pretty much alive in the people's hearts.
In my opinion, Lloyd Clark does provide some interesting insights in this book, especially about InterAllied relationships.
This book was rated by me with 5 stars for this reason.
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on 2 August 2011
I have now read a number of books on Market Garden, and I have to say that this book is by far my favorite.
The author has a nice easy style that makes reading this book a real pleasure and at times it feels like a novel. This book is packed with great detail as well as some superb personal accounts, and I'm sure most readers will not only really enjoy this book but also learn something. This book is the perfect compliment to Kershaw's excellent 'It Never Snows in September' which covers the German side of Market Garden in great detail.
I also really liked the fact that the author has covered the successful Operation Varsity/Plunder in 1945, however I would have liked a bit more on this lesser known operation, but I guess that short of a whole book on the subject the author had to consider the total length of the book.
I thoroughly recommend this book.
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on 9 October 2015
As advertised and on time, very pleased, thank you.
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