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Death of a Nazi Army, a Book Review

Discussion in 'ETO, MTO and the Eastern Front' started by belasar, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Death of a Nazi Army: The Falaise Pocket, by William B Breuer, Stein and Day Publisher, 1985, 312 pages, Photos, Maps, Index, Hardbound.

    The narrative begins with a brief look at the events around the July 20 Plot and the situation facing the Allies in Normandy looking for a way to breakout. He describes the formulation of Operation Cobra, the opening moves, breakout and closure of the pocket.

    While predominately a book about American military operations, Breuer takes pains to also include the point of view of Germans, British, Canadian, Poles and the common French civilians caught up in tornado of violence coming at them from every direction. He also tries to enliven the narrative by looking at the battle from the perspective of common soldiers and their commanders. In these vignettes is the complex pathos of modern war, fear, exhilaration, sacrifice, humor and absurdity.

    These vignettes do bring up the one flaw I felt lay in the book. Sometimes when transitioning from micro to the macro level I felt a little lost in the weeds as I gathered my bearings. Often places described in these interludes are not on any map, leaving me at least, wondering exactly where I was. Overall though these are minor and can be ignored.

    Mr Breuer was a veteran of the Normandy campaign, and I am pleased to say he seemed to have no ax to grind here, which is all to common in books on this subject. While he does find mistakes were made, they were made by all players with no one party the prime suspect. He also give proper credit to the German defenders determined to keep the corridor open, not for the greater glory of the Reich, but to save their fellow soldiers.

    He takes pains to show that while some on the Allied side, then and now, saw this as a glass half empty, from the German perspective, it was a unmitigated disaster that many thought could not be recovered from. Truthfully, no victory is ever absolute.

    A solid book on a controversial subject that steers clear of hype or finger pointing.
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  2. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    good to see a view from the civilians included...as they suffered greatly...I've read his Top Secret Tales and one of my favorites Bloody Clash at Sadzot.....great reading IMO...I just requested Death of a N Army
     
  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Thanks for your review. These slice of life books can be confusing, especially if there is no way to know where you are. However, they do provide a ground view of the conflict which is often discussed from an "aerial" view.
     

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