Crossing the Rhine: Breaking into Nazi Germany 1944 and 1945--The Greatest Airborne Battles in History

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In September 1944, with the Allies eager to break into Nazi Germany after Normandy, thirty-five thousand U.S. and British troops parachuted into Nazi held territory in the Netherlands. The controversial offensive, code named Operation Market Garden, was conceived by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to secure the lower Rhine Germany’s last great natural barrier in the west and passage to Berlin. Allied soldiers outnumbered Germans by two to one, but they were poorly armed against the German Panzer tanks and suffered devastating casualties. After nine days of intense fighting, they were forced to retreat. Several months later, in March 1945, Montgomery orchestrated another airborne attack of the Rhine. This time the Allies prevailed and began their march into the heart of the Third Reich. At once a gripping narrative and a moving testament to the courage and tenacity of ordinary soldiers who are thrust into desperate circumstances, Crossing the Rhine moves at a fast pace, delivers a fresh interpretation of the past, and forces us to ask ourselves just what it takes in blood spilled, in lives lost to win in war.

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About the Author:

Lloyd Clark is senior lecturer at the Department of War Studies, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

From Publishers Weekly:

Two battles anchor this narrative of Allied efforts to cross the Rhine at WWII's climax. The first is the famous Operation Market-Garden, during which British paratroopers seized a Rhine bridge and were virtually wiped out by German counterattacks. The second is Operation Plunder-Varsity, a set piece crossing by a huge Allied force, including a superfluous airborne attack, that bulldozed through flimsy German defenses in the war's closing days. Although Plunder-Varsity lacked Market-Garden's drama, British military historian Clark (Anzio) tells both sagas well, including planning meetings, harrowing parachute descents and foxhole firefights; he sets the battles in the context of the bitter strategic debates between British and American generals. Less convincing is his rehabilitation of British general Bernard Montgomery's oft-criticized handling of the engagements. Clark describes Market-Garden as both strategically and operationally sound and, contradictorily, as a plan too flawed to be a success. His appreciation of Plunder-Varsity—both an outrageous success and a conservative operation against a terminally weak enemy—is similarly halfhearted. But the courage and resourcefulness of ordinary soldiers, though not of their commander, comes through in this vivid war story. Maps. (Nov.)
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