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The Field Marshal's Revenge: The Breakdown of a Special Relationship (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 1. September 2003

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This is an exploration of the "special relationship" between Great Britain and the United States told from the perspective of the volatile, often fraught alliance during World War Two. The spotlight falls on Monty and Ike, then takes in the ordinary squaddie who becomes a pawn in the game, and finally Montgomery's unsuccessful attempt to assert Britain's superiority in the closing months of the war. Recent events in Iraq have yet again brought the "special relationship" under intense scrutiny and gives a flesh and blood portrait of two of the most charismatic figures of World War II who are, perhaps, too often, eulogised.


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Missing Chapters 16. Juni 2004
Von Donald J. Keck - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Charles Whiting is a British historian. Therefore, he's entitled to his pro British bias and occasional digs at such American commanders as Bradley and Patton. And he does not really try to cover up Montgomery's egotism, jealousy and desire for the supreme command.
A good part of the story concerns the strategic argument between Ike and Monty over a "narrow front strategy" vs a "broad front strategy" which broke out soon after the Normandy invasion. Eisenhower advocated a broad front advance into Germany with all of the allied army's advancing in tandam. Montgomery advocated a narrow front advance with the bulk of the allied might concentrated in a single thrust under his command. As this was the exact opposite of his strategy in the Western Desert, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Monty's argument had less to do with strategy than with his desire to assume sole command of the allied assault on Germany, while relegating the American commanders to a holding action, and Eisenhower to a figurehead role far removed from actual command of operations on the battlefield.
As Supreme Allied Commander Ike eventually decided the issue in favor of a unified advance by all of the allied armies. But not before he gave Monty what he had asked for. This became Operation Market Garden, Monty's single thrust effort to "bounce the Rhine" and advance into Germany in the fall of 1944. It was the failure of Operation Market Garden that settled the debate over the narrow front strategy vs the broad front strategy, and sealed the fate of Montgomery. He would not achieve his heart's desire to displace Eisenhower and assume control of the allied advance (although as Whiting shows he continued to try).
It has always seemed to me that Operation Market Garden was a desparate gamble by Montgomery to achieve the control of the allied advance he so desparately desired, and that Ike let him have his way in order to settle the issue one way or the other. It has also seemed to me that Montgomery was the last allied commander who could have made Operation Market Garden work. It required a bold, rapid thrust into the enemies flank, in constant danger of outrunning his support and without regard for the possiblity of a counter attack. This was the kind of strategy that a Patton or Rommel could have carried off. It was not the kind of warfare that a cautious, careful general like Montgomery was suited for. His great victories in North Africa had been won through planning and preparation, launched with the assurance of overwhelming numerical and logistical superiority. His delay in capturing Caen during the Normandy campaign merely confirms that this was his method of conducting a battle.
Strangely, Mr. Whiting bounces his own Rhine in this book. After fairly detailed chapters on the North African campaign and Sicily he jumps, in one inadequate chapter, over the Normandy landings, Patton's break out from the bridgehead, the race accross France and Operation Market Garden to land on the eve of the battle of the Bulge where he picks up the story of the Eisenhower-Montgomery rivalry once again.
Instead of a detailed analysis of the failure of the narrow front strategy in Operation Market Garden we get the following brief comments:
"His abortive 'Market Garden' operation to 'bounce the Rhine' at Arnhem didn't help either. It increased the ire of generals such as Bradley and Patton."
"The failure of the 'Market Garden' operation, based on a similar strategy, did not weaken his demands for the 'narrow front' strategy."
That's it? The failure of Operation Market Garden was key to the defeat of Montgomery's efforts to wrest contol of the allied armies from Eisenhower. And this is all that Whiting has to say about it? Certainly it was an embarassment to the British, especially considering the personal motivations in which it was entangled. But it cannot be avoided in any discussion of the politics of the allied coalition and of the rivalry between Montgomery and Eisenhower, a rivalry that was fueled largely by Monty's ambition.
Whiting is at his best in describing the internacine rivalry between the British and American generals during World War II. It is worth remembering, however, that not all British commanders sided with Montgomery. Air Marshal Tedder, among others, loyally supported Ike. Whiting's telling of the tale of this great rivalry in the midst of a great war is fascinating. I wish that I could also say that it is an unbiased account.
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Shabby research, oozing Monty-philia 10. Juli 2005
Von Mannie Liscum - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
As the main title might suggest, The Field Marshal's Revenge: The Breakdown of a Special Relationship by Charles Whiting, is a pro-Monty venture in which his worst traits are forgiven because it is supposed he was wronged or held back by others. The subtitle suggested that somehow this aforementioned notion would be offset by the damage incurred to the relationship between parent (Britain) and child (US). Unfortunately only the first prediction holds up upon reading.

Whiting is a prolific writer and Second World War historian, who has made contributions to the field of military history literature that are worthy of study. The Field Marshal's Revenge is a piece of work that falls between un-worthy and worthy - what? You ask. Some pieces of historical literature are simply not worth picking up, while others are classics in all respects that all students of military history should read at least once. The present book fits neither of these categories. It's not awful, but it's not great either. I hesitate to even say it's "good" because that would be potentially too encouraging. Yet to say it's "simply bad" would be overstating the negatives. So what's right and what's wrong with this book?

Pros: Whiting is an engaging writer who certainly creates a very readable prose. Of the stuff of his I've read I'd put him in the second tier of military writers with respect to storytelling (where top tier folks are people like J. Toland, C. Ryan, S. Ambrose, R. Atkinson, and A. Kershaw). Certainly writing a good story is Whiting's forte.

Cons: First, Whiting's research for The Field Marshal's Revenge is quite shabby. Of the 49 sources Whiting cites in his bibliography, none are primary sources (unless one considers Omar Bradley's autobiographies/memoirs primary sources, in which case there are two) and nine are Whiting's own books! So don't expect new revelations based on untapped sources. In fact most of the revelations made in this book are completely without citation or reference to a source. For example, Whiting makes assertions that Eisenhower's Broad Front strategy post-Normandy Breakout was based in large part on the desire to let all the commanders and their armies in NW Europe (including US Seventh Army coming up from S France) take place in the final assault on Germany. He further asserts that the pause in Nov/Dec 44 along of the West Wall (Siegfried Line) was done merely to ensure that this, especially the participation of US Armies, took place. Yet Whiting provides no cited evidence of this being the case. It is hard to argue that Ike was not concerned with political fallout from unbalanced interactions/actions of the Allies he commanded, yet to trivialize the Broad Front strategy in these terms does more to hurt the case for Montgomery's Narrow Front argument than prove Ike's strategic decision was wrong. In another example of making claims without clear evidence of truth is Whiting's assertion that Patton essential knew about (or at least seriously suspected) the planned German Ardennes Counteroffensive and planned his northward swing to "save" the First Army before the German offensive started. Moreover, Whiting writes that Patton did this without informing SHAEF and it was all for his personal glory! Yet, what sources of information does Whiting draw upon to develop such theories? Although he cites nine of his own books it is curious that with respect to this latter example of a "con", Whiting fails to even cite his own recent work, The Ghost Front, in which he had previously made such assertions (with no more evidence being provided there!).

So why does Whiting make such claims? One can imagine that much of this has its roots in his little hidden Anglo/Monty-philia and Americanphobia. Many historical writers bias their works in terms of their own geographical connections, especially in the field of military history. Yet the BEST author-historians maintain an unbiased approach to their research. It is possible that due to lack of critical and deep research Whiting felt no compunction to heed this rule? One can only wonder.

So in the final analysis, The Field Marshal's Revenge is a 4 star read with a 1 star (graciously given) effort in terms of historical research. 2 stars final grade!
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The British factor 9. Mai 2014
Von Monique Sobrino - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
The British did make tremendous sacrifices and achieved substantial success all through the war. Montgomery was a superb leader amongst a group of many. This work, taken alone, portrays other commanders, British, American and French, as almost incapable fools. The war was a huge undertaking with millions involved. No one person, Montgomery included, stood out against the rest in the way Montgomery is portrayed here. A good read for anglophiles and Montgomery fans but short change to the contributions of other generals and Eisenhower in particular.
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Thoughts On The Book 30. März 2014
Von Lloyd g. Packer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Even thogh I was in WW2, I was a Merchant Seaman, and only knew what I read in the papers. I find out by this book, that the generals were not the heros they were made out to be. With all the in-fighting, it's a wonder we came out on top, and why Generl Bradley was later given 5 stars, only the politicians know.
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The Other Side of the Relationship 20. Juni 2014
Von Gary Hobin - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Whiting's investigation of the "special relationship" between the US and Great Britain in World War II exhibits a decidedly British perspective. The author paints a portrait of the Anglo-American coalition "with all the warts," to counteract the oft-expressed conviction that all was goodness and light in defeating the Axis powers. Whiting uses all the skills of a dedicated archivist to ferret out the inter-personal conflicts and strategic errors that made coalition warfare the challenge that most historians acknowledge. He focuses on the personality and competency of Field Marshall Montgomery as the main actor in this drama: a brilliant but flawed character who restored British battle confidence in the aftermath of Dunkirk, but came to believe himself infallible and thereby failed to capitalize on opportunities offered by the vast logistics capabilities of US coalition partners. Whiting is wrong in some of his assertions, for example, that American writers have ignored the issue of how close we came to amphibious disaster at OMAHA beach; he does, however, provide a valuable "other side" perspective on events of 1940-1945, one that serious students of World War II, coalition warfare, and the Cold War world would do well to consider.
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