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

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9780871139894: Crossing the Rhine: Breaking into Nazi Germany 1944 and 1945-The Greatest Airborne Battles in History
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From one of the world’s leading military historians comes a thrilling and richly detailed account of the two most critical offensives in World War II’s western theater after D-Day the Allied airborne assaults on the Rhine. In September 1944, with the Allies still celebrating their success at Normandy and eager to finish the job, thirty-five thousand U.S. and British troops parachuted into Nazi 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 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 they won and began their march into the heart of the Third Reich. Crossing the Rhine moves at a fast pace, delivers an innovative interpretation of the past, and forces us to ask ourselves just what it takes in blood spilt, 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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