Their kettle-shaped helmets lent a medieval aspect to the horse soldiers clattering out of the twilight. The year was 1940, the occasion a preparedness parade, the helmets actually those of the 1917-1918 style. Yet to a small boy catching his first glimpse of Americas army as well as the metallic headgear seemed to represent old wars rather than new, a military past yet more remote than the Mexican border skirmishes for which the troopers in fact were outfitted.
Thus begins this brilliant study of the American-led campaign for Europe in World War II. It is an analysis of command at both the strategic and the tactical level. All the complex ingredients of nations at warthe burdens of history, the impact of technology, the roles of personalities, the confusions of the battlefieldare presented in a powerful narrative which is as pleasurable to read as it is deeply founded in scholarship.
The portraits of Field Marshal Montgomery and of Ikes lieutenantsOmar N. Bradley, Jacob L. Devers, Courtney H. Hodges, George S. Patton, Jr., Alexander M. Patch, William H. Simpson, Leonard T. Gerow, J. Lawton Collins, and Matthew B. Ridgway, among othersare the first detailed treatments that many of these leaders have received. Every major strategic and tactical decision in every battle of the American offensive is covered in detail with maps and careful descriptions of key terrain features, including many personal insights drawn from diaries kept at the American army group and army headquarters.
This is a major and grippingly told reassessment of the leadership and the fighting capabilities of the Allied forces in climactic battles of World War II.