The invasion of Crete in 1941 should have been a textbook battle, a swift and decisive blitzkrieg, based on tactical surprise. In fact it was based on a series of misjudgements which were to result in large and bloody losses and Crete becoming the graveyard of the German parachute troops. In this account, Callum MacDonald shows how the interception of German plans by British intelligence allowed them to create a carefully prepared trap for the German parachute troops, and also how the German victory proved a hollow one, as their forces suffered greater losses in the battle for Crete than in the entire Balkan campaign. MacDonald has made use of material previously kept secret, to create a narrative of one of the vital battles of World War II.
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Everything you wanted to know about the Nazi glider-and- paratroop invasion of Crete, plus a history of early airborne-troop warfare and its prime practitioner, Kurt Student. MacDonald (History/Warwick University, England; The Killing of SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhardt Heydrich, 1989) starts off with a life of Student--a Luftwaffe star who was a favorite of Hitler's even though the F hrer ignored his emphasis on the importance of Crete as a steppingstone to Egypt, crucial to Britain's empire. MacDonald indicates that Crete was seen by Hitler as a sideshow that would lull Stalin while defusing possible RAF attacks on the vital Ploesti oil fields, and it's clear that Student's mission was star-crossed from the beginning. Security was intentionally breached by rumors that the invasion of Crete would be practice for an invasion of Britain; then Goering replaced Student as overall commander with stodgy General Alexander Lohr. Student's bold original plan for massive simultaneous glider landings was compromised, and there were all sorts of difficulties and delays. Meanwhile, the British fiasco in Greece made Crete crucially important to the Allies, although their defense was equally confused. MacDonald's narrative takes off as he explains how cracked German Enigma codes provided vital day-to-day knowledge of the invasion to the Allies, but he never breaks free of compulsive detailing--though his description of the sea battle for Crete, with its strafing of shipwrecked Germans, is properly horrific. MacDonald's sense of strategic issues is strong, but his reluctance to summarize blurs focus, resulting in an exhaustive military history without the scope or sense of overriding cultural realities that lifts, say, George Feifer's Tennozan (1992) above the genre. For WW II veterans and buffs only. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
The battle for the Mediterranean island of Crete (May 20-June 1, 1941) was unique in three respects: it was the first airborne invasion in history; it was the first time the Allies took major operational advantage after breaking the German "Enigma" code; and it was the first time that invading German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population. MacDonald describes how General Kurt Student developed Germany's airborne doctrine during the '30s, tested it in 1940 against the Belgian fortress of Eban-Emael, then led his paratroops into Crete. The Allied defenders (Britain, Australia, New Zealand) put up a good fight but were eventually forced to withdraw to a tiny beachhead from which most of the survivors were evacuated by sea. MacDonald ( Korea: The War Before Vietnam ) staunchly defends British commander Bernard Freyberg, whom he believes performed as ably as any general could under "impossible" circumstances. Ironically, the breaking of Enigma's secret severely restricted Freyberg's tactical options lest the enemy discover that the Allies were "reading his mail." Packed with ripsnorting action, MacDonald's battle narrative is a major account of a minor but interesting WW II campaign. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Free Press, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110029196256
Book Description Free Press, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0029196256
Book Description Free Press, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0029196256
Book Description Free Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0029196256 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0004319