No English-language title previously written on the 1940 Norway campaign has approached this one's scope, depth, and accuracy. It emphasizes the naval and air war, yet author Geirr Haarr provides anecdotes and insights on the ground war I have not encountered elsewhere.
One of the author's many revelations concerns the heartrending failures of trust, particularly between the British and Norwegians, which played directly into German hands. Just after the Germans occupied Oslo, the western press played up the role of Quisling's treasonous pro-Nazi government, stirring British fears of fifth column Norwegian Nazis. In reality, the Norwegians were devotedly pro-Allied, and determined to drive the Germans out. Once in Norway, most Allied officers quickly discerned local loyalties, and coordinated with hard-fighting Norwegian forces. But a few, most crucially Mackesy and Carton de Wiart, clung to biases that betrayed trust and fatally undermined Allied efforts.
Harr shows how the Norwegian army, though ill-equipped, fought with tenacity, aptitude, and understanding of its unique home terrain. Well into the campaign Norway's navy retained partial control of key fiords in southern Norway. Had the western Allies made better use of Norway's own forces, history might have turned out very differently.
Mr. Harr gives photos and descriptions of the little Norwegian "puffers," small ferryboats that shuttled troops and supplies, and were less vulnerable to air attack and grounding in difficult waters than larger, more cumbersome Allied vessels. He gives accounts from AA gunners who found themselves "on alert" twenty-two hours a day in Norway's high latitudes, firing away until ships' decks were crowded with cartridges, ammunition was low, and nerves were shot. He shows how the highly-regarded French Chasseurs Alpins, though first-rate soldiers, had trouble adapting to snow and terrain conditions that differed greatly from the French Alps.
The author must have spent many years of thoughtful work crafting this title. There are enough maps to help you follow the action despite Norway's vast, complex geography. The photographs are ample - about one every other page - enhanced by captions that bring out details you could never get from text alone. I have never before encountered images of German mountain troops advancing in the obscure but important Helgeland campaign, or bemused Narvik civilians watching French troops marching for home, back to their transports after winning the town at great cost. Many photos come from Norwegian sources; this is probably their first appearance in English-language literature.
The text is highly readable, with a nice blend of objectiveness and sensitivity to human situations. This title is the newly-established classic, a "must-read" for those with an interest in the tragedy and drama of Norway 1940.