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Nazi Germany expected its airborne attack on Crete in 1941 to be a textbook victory based on tactical surprise. Little did they know that the British, using Ultra intercepts, had already laid a careful trap. It should have been the first German defeat of the war, but a fatal misunderstanding turned the battle around.
Prize-winning historian and best-selling author Antony Beevor lends his gift for storytelling to this important conflict, showing not only how the situation turned bad for Allied forces but also how ferocious Cretan freedom fighters mounted a heroic resistance. Originally published in 1991, Crete 1941 is a breathtaking account of a momentous battle of World War II.
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By Jean on 02-01-16
Anthony Beevor has a distinct writing style of blending the operational aspects with human interest stories. Beevor was a regular in the 11th Hussars of the British Army. His book on Stalingrad won many prizes including the Wolfson History Prize.
This book about Crete is divided into three parts. The first part is Operation Marita, the invasion of Greece by German and Italian forces and the subsequent evacuation of the Allied forces to Crete. The second part is the largest taking up half of the book; it covers the invasion of Crete by the Germans and the evacuation of the Allied forces to Egypt. The third and last part is the organized resistance movement on Crete after the Allied defeat.
The British should have won; they had the Ultra intercepts and knew the German’s plans, but a fatal misunderstanding turned the battle to a lost. Beevor as a former soldier writes with a soldier’s eye and a historian’s insight. The author dissects the leadership of both sides illuminating their achievements and follies. In particular he found fault with the New Zealand, General Freyberg, in command of Crete.
The book does not cover new information but the writing is excellent. He shows the confusion of the high command and the bravery of soldiers of both sides. James Langton does a good job narrating the book.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Joseph on 05-30-17
A modern classic of military history
Beevor's account is the definitive story of the Battle, the Occupation and the immediate aftermath. His account of the Resistance is, of necessity, sporadic and unfocused. The simple fact is that we don't know substance of many of the most famous incidents. People were unsure of what happened a half hour after the fact. Very few participants had any reason to tell the truth and there were always, every single time, fundamentally conflicting narratives. These conflicting stories came into existence immediately after the events and only became more entrenched and more contradictory as time passed. There was heroic resistance and there was accommodation and there was collaboration. The details are lost forever.