The Battle for the Rhine

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ISBN: 9781433283550
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Full Title: The Battle for the Rhine: The Battle for the Bulge and the Ardennes Campaign, 1944

Having learned about the Western European campaign largely in the United States, I had come to know that George Patton's aggressiveness and Bernard Montgomery's timidity were exaggerated, but mostly based on a sound foundation. British author Robin Neillands, however, made an attempt in his The Battle for the Rhine to re-establish our understanding of the Allied campaigns to penetrate into Germany. He argued that nationalistic chauvinism allowed American authors to gloss over American shortcomings by stressing the ultimate victory over Germany. To illustrate, he repeatedly presented Dwight Eisenhower's broad-front strategy, something that American historians tended to celebrate, as a major blunder. Neillands argued that Eisenhower committed a rudimentary error by not concentrating his force, thus losing the ability to make a meaningful offensive of any kind. Meanwhile, in the author's view, Montgomery's lack of tact had little to do with his mastery of military strategy, but yet the two characteristics were linked together in popular American-centric analysis, thus taking away deserved credit from the British field marshal. While the author effectively presented his point of view with strong support, I felt that Neillands did himself a disfavor by nearly crossing the line which might earn him the nationalistic chauvinist label that he fought so hard against. Finally, while I had always viewed the result of the Battle of the Bulge as both a tactical victory and a strategic victory for the Allies, Neillands leaned toward viewing it as a strategic stalemate at best, for that the German operation had successfully blunted the Allied offensive, thus delaying the crossing of the Rhine by many weeks; this evaluation was difficult to accept, but again he presented ample facts to support his theory.

I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. James Adams did a fine job reading the book, sounding authoritative aside from having good pace and good clarity.

I would recommend The Battle for the Rhine but with strong caution. The author did a great job challenging myths in popular culture, but at the same time he seemed to have introduced additional ones of his own. This book would be a good complement to other books on various campaigns in Western Europe, but a good prior understanding would certainly be a requirement before picking up this book.



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More on The Battle for the Rhine
Related People:
» Eisenhower, Dwight
» Gavin, James
» Montgomery, Bernard
» Patton, George

Related Events:
» Battle of Hürtgen Forest
» Battle of the Bulge
» Battle of the Scheldt Estuary
» Operation Market Garden



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USS Coral Sea, Sep 1943




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