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4.6 out of 5 stars
10
4.6 out of 5 stars
Operation Market-garden Then and Now: v. 1 & 2 (Then & Now)
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on 6 March 2008
The story of the 1944 military blunder at Arnhem has been given the authoritative After the Battle treatment. Dutch author Karel Margry's masterly work blasts away the Hollywood gloss of the 1970's big name showcase film version of the story, this time rightly focusing on the thousands of individuals who fought, died or survived and corrects the many myths that have arisen since the war.

The story starts with remarkable photos of General Eisenhower taking the salute of the U.S. 82nd Airborne at Stoughton airfield, British paratroop inspection on Oakham school's playing field and anxious American paratroops waiting for the off. Margry then follows the story through to the battle's brutal climax.

A sign of the power of this work is the strong emotion that every photo invokes. From pride and pity, to thanksgiving that we did not have to experience the war, this enveloping work is the next thing up from actually experiencing the battle. But there is also amusement, from a snarling captured British paratrooper giving the German photographer a reverse V for victory two-fingered salute as he marches past, to the pathos of one of his less fortunate dead comrades slumped, head down as if in prayer, suspended only by his webbing caught on a garden fence.

The secret of After the Battle's success is in the sheer detail and plethora of previously unseen photographs that each work contains. With over 2500 photographs over 750 pages, this lavish two-volume slipcased set will provide hours of interest and is truly the last word on the subject. It is exceptionally difficult to write a critical review of their flawless publications and once again they have managed an eleven out of ten.
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on 27 May 2008
I'm not a huge fan of "then & now" photo collections - while I find them mildly interesting, I don't think it adds a lot to my knowledge of a battlefield to see how it looks today.

But I recommend getting this book if you're interested in the Market-Garden offensive - it will challenge everything you thought you knew about the battles, and open your eyes to a whole new level of understanding of what happened.

The first thing is to put Market-Garden into its proper context. It is very easy to read a history of the Normandy battles, ending with the breakout and pursuit from the beachhead, and then read about Market-Garden as if there was no connection. In August 1944 the German army in the West was in a state of near-collapse, and the Allies made numerous plans to use their airborne forces to capture key points, only (as this book makes clear) to see their land forces race ahead and capture them before the airborne landings could take place. Montgomery's audacious gamble to out-flank the Mass/Meuse river makes a lot more sense with this in mind - although of course with hindsight we know that from September onwards, the German armed forces managed to regroup in the natural defences along the border with France, as the Allied forces out-ran their supply lines.

The main body of the book is a detailed history of each section of the offensive (the British paras, the US 82nd and 101st, and the British XXX corps land attack) which seems to run through the battles almost minute-by-minute, but with so much going on, the narrative never drags.

To take one example of what the book brings out, one controversy is over how much intelligence the British had about the presence of Panzer divisions in the landing areas, and it has been argued that the commanders wilfully ignored evidence of German tanks in the area. The issue is fully dissected, and we see a copy of the actual pre-landing intelligence assessment for the British airborne which talks about there being elements of two Panzer divisions regrouping in the area - a pretty accurate summary.

In the end what this book showed me is that the key mistake was made by the British in picking their drop zones too far from the target of the bridge at Arnhem. Combined with the quick and effective response of the German commander on the spot, who put together makeshift units (including non-combat personnel) and rushed them into action, this meant that only a small force reached the bridge, and once it was cut-off from the rest of the parachute division, the whole offensive was basically doomed despite the successes further South. If part of the division had been landed close to Arnhem then (even if this resulted in higher casualties for the drop than the very low number historically suffered) it would probably have been able to get to the bridge while it was still unguarded, and a larger force might even have been able to hold out until relieved...

But don't just take my word for it - read this book yourself and you will have all the facts to judge for yourself.
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on 6 August 2010
The battle of Arnhem is my favourite piece of military history research. Having travelled to the battlefield site 2 years ago, it seemed a good idea to buy this title. No beating about the bush here - it is simply one of the most brilliant books (or 2, as in this case) that I have ever found on the subject. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Market Garden.
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on 2 August 2014
As always,a very high standard of work from After the Battle.
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on 6 May 2016
This book like all "After the Battle" publications is a true labour of love. If this battle is of interest to you then these two volumes must be the foundation on which you build your library.
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on 21 November 2013
There is no doubt that the then and now series of books are the best on the current market for the serious follower of subjects covered by all these books. Very good if trips are made to the actual locations mentioned.
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on 23 July 2013
As usual with the After the Battle - then and now; great books that are worth any cent!

If you are interested in military history of World War II in ETO; go and grab it!
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on 29 December 2015
Superb! Volumes one and two cover all you need to know on this subject.
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on 12 June 2015
Excellent as usual
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on 14 July 2014
excellent books, good quality paper and very detailed text. I previously bought both volumes of D-Day which were also excellent.
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