on 20 April 2013
This specific volume, despite its title, is a general account of the battle of Arnhem (not Market Garden) from the initial planning
stage to the arrival at the Bridge of those elements of 1AD that made it there. So this covers the first 'British' lift, leaving
the remaining lifts, and the subsequent battles around Oosterbeek to be covered, presumably, in the next three volumes.
Unfortunately this book is so poor that there is little incentive to purchase these.
This volume carries a hopelessly misleading title and purchasers should be warned.
One might justifably expect, in a series entitles Air War: Market Garden, that the book would concentrate on the 'air war',
such as it was. Whilst I may take issue with some of the conclusions drawn by Mr Ritchie in his book:
"Arnhem: Myth and Reality: Airborne Warfare, Air Power and the Failure of Operation Market Garden", there can be no doubt that
his emphasis is firmly on the air operations and planning. But, as indicated above, the last third of the reviewed book covers
the actions of the units on the ground, both British and German, between the landing zone and the Bridge. Of 'Garden' there is
nary a mention nor is reference made to the two US airborne divisions - apart from in the 'timelines' - but these, presumably,
are covered in the next volume.
The book lacks coherence and a natural flow, not assisted by much of it being anecdotal. The majority of the book contains short
quotations from those actually involved, interspersed with the narrative. In many cases there is a short paragraph allocated to
the many people quoted giving a few lines on their previous life, not necessarily military related. On page 155, for example,
there is a twenty-one line paragraph devoted to Captain Frank MC. Of this paragraph six lines are devoted to his
comments on the 'march' to the Bridge: the remainder notes his career at school, the school teams he captained etc. Whilst this
may be of interest to some it would have been better as a footnote. The account of the actions is also interspersed with a
'timeline', each of which can be up to several pages in length, which also breaks the flow of the narrative.
The 'timelines', although disrupting the flow of the book, are probably the most useful information there. These give 'harder' data
than the narrative, and are well presented, but as these cover about twenty pages in total the book cannot be recommended on this
Whilst I accept this is a personal preference I believe that a large number of the very short comments by the people involved will
not add to your knowledge of the battle. Whilst I can find books written from a personal perspective interesting they are inevitably
limited to the, normally fairly narrow, areas in which the author was directly involved. When limited to a sentence or two the personal
perspective is lost but the readers' understanding of the 'big picture' is only rarely improved. This is, of course, a criticism of the
compilation of the book, rather than the individual's personal contribution. It appears, from the author's introduction that the
comments may have been extracted from a related web site.
The book is very derivative. There is no bibliography and many of the footnotes are extracted from 'A Bridge Too Far' by Cornelius
Ryan which was first published in 1974. Whilst Ryan has written an extremely readable book, I suggest few would regard it as a source
volume: many of the conclusions have become outdated as further research has been undertaken and more sources have become available.
Again, to return tothe book under review, as is usual with Pen and Sword publications, the photographs have been seen many times before
- I doubt that, to a knowledgable reader, there are any you have not seen before. There are a few 'sketch maps', which are hand drawn,
that may assist the reader new to subject.
The proof reading, which is poor, does not serve the author well. On page 88, I might (or might not) be fascinated to read that "He
(Browning) was perched on an upturned Worthington's beer crate between the pilot's seats occupied by Chatterton and his co-pilot "Andy"
Andrews". Whatever interest I may have had waned, when four lines later on the same page, I read that "Browning sat on an empty Worthington
beer crate between the pilot and co-pilot". Unfortunately there are a number of similar 'repetitions' in this book which further detract
from its 'value'.
If you know nothing of Operation Market Garden then this book may be for you: but at a cost. With the four volumes, approaching £100 there
are many better value purchases for the general reader. For anyone with even a modest knowledge of this operation I would recommend you
stay well away.
As I hope is apparant I have not read the final three volumes but, based on this book, I seriously doubt the publisher's claim of: "a meticulously
researched four-part series".