Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 12 Jan 2018
Full Title: Eisenhower's Armies: The American-British Alliance during World War II
I had previously come across many books focused on the war time relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, so when I picked up Niall Barr's Eisenhower's Armies, I was skeptical on whether it would really be worth my time. As it would turn out, I was wrong to have such doubts.
From the get-go, Barr dove into much more detail than I had expected. While some might think that the author devoting entire chapters to the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and World War I to be straying far off topic (I had such thoughts as well while going through those chapters), information provided here would later prove to be of some interest in the later chapters. As far as people were concerned, naturally, the relationship between Dwight Eisenhower and Bernard Montgomery consumed many pages, but I felt that this book really set itself apart from the many others with the detailed discussions on the others whose names were either less mentioned, such as John Dill, or very rarely mentioned at all, such as Freddie de Guingand. As for the more intangible, Barr did a great job discussing the lingering effects of WW1 horrors and the resulting need to balance of stereotypical British caution (but still achieving advances) and American aggression (but at the cost of higher casualties), the Anglo-American joint failure to standardize parts and ammunition, and the British struggle to maintain relevance in the field of tank design and tactics amidst being a gracious recipient of American generosity and a cautious party to increasing American assertiveness.
I should note that the author focused very heavily in the European War. This was understandable, but by ignoring the war in the China-Burma region, for example, a completely different set of tension and cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom was missed.
I had reviewed this book in its audio book format. Steven Crossley, with his distinctively English style of reading, did a good job.
Ultimately, Barr demonstrated Eisenhower as a superb leader who was apt in dealing with great egos in order to achieve the grand, but not shared, vision to win the war in Europe. Eisenhower's Armies also illustrated how the unprecedented level of cooperation between nations was achieved. I had learned a great deal from this book and would certainly put it on my recommend list.
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