Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Crete The Battle and the Resistance Book Review

New to this blog, but old to my other blog is the book review. I decided to swap the reviews to this blog for a couple of reasons. First of all in the polls I ran the Book Reviews were fairly low on popularity as they were not directly attached to ASL. Secondly, given that I try to keep everything on Wall Advantage WWII based it limited the reviews to just WWII and the surrounding periods. Moving it here allows other historical periods and even dare I say it fiction.
Antony Beevor is greatly respected as a WWII Popular Historian. His work on Stalingrad and Berlin are seen as some of the best mainstream books on the subject. His writing style and skill supplies a good mix of information and a feel for the battle that more dry number based accounts fail to achieve. So when I mentioned elsewhere that I was going to/was reading the book I was taken back by the amount of negative comments. Well maybe not negative, more, not his best work to his worst book kind of comments. Well I pressed on and I can see where they are coming from, but that as always is half a story.
Beevor does not start in Crete but Greece, which is required to both set the scene and help explain what follows. This was welcome as whilst I did know formations that were beaten up were sent to Crete I did not know about others that were not, nor about the units that were left in Crete such as Cretan Regiments that would have fought well on home soil. It covers the usual foul ups and missed chances that always seems to go with Commonwealth Operations but also has a very interesting view of what I will call the ULTRA excuse. I read this book whilst I was playing a campaign on Crete and it was great to be using a historical map and seeing places mentioned in the book whilst I was fighting over them.
Moving onto the battle itself I was only confused about one thing, the lackluster praise I had heard from my fellow gamers. This was just as interesting as Stalingrad and in my mind better than Berlin (both of which I want to re-visit due to this reading). In parts tragic, funny and valiant. Both sides have their moment of glory, well three sides really as The native Cretans did more than their part. But also shame and folly. All in all this section of the book is very strong and I did not want it to end as quickly as it did. This seems a good point to break the book down into it's three parts. Part one Greece 56 pages. Part Two The Battle 176 pages. Part Three 84 pages.
This is the rub. The last 84 pages will seem after all the action to be rather bland. Most of the events seem trivial, and worse repeats of previous actions. Your enjoyment of this section of the book I believe will rest on the amount of interest you have in Guerrilla Wars and Resistance fighters. I suspect the comments I had heard from others shows they had little interest themselves. Again though even if you have an interest the value of the accounts are somewhat reduced through repartition. Personally I found this section interesting at first and whilst I never became bored of it, I was glad to finish it. The exact opposite of Part 2. I think it's a case of too little stretched to far. 40 odd pages and you get the flavour without the gristle but it's the chewing not the flavour that seems o stick in the mind.
Overall I think it's a good book, I am glad I read Part Three but when I read it again I may well skip the last part. If you have an interest in Crete then I can recommend the book fully, as I could if you have interest in Paratroop drops or just a good old war story.
I have somehow managed to get two copies of the book so I am offering one up as a giveaway (the unread one LOL). So between now and the end of February any follower leaving a comment on this blog will be entered in the draw (once) and the lucky winner will be announced as soon as I get round to forcing the kids to pick a name out. Again to join in you need to be a follower so anyone accusing me of trying to pad out my followers is 100% correct!
Good Luck and all that.


  1. An interesting review. I may have to keep an eye open for this book.

  2. Well at the moment you have 100% chance of winning thecopy so you may not need too.

    I also read Battle for Spain but did not like that one so much


  3. I read this book a couple of months ago and found it interesting throughout. I knew a fair bit about the Crete campaign from reading other books back when I was a teenager and more recently Paddy Griffiths' book on his conversational wargames, but the section on Greece helped to put a great deal in context.

    (no need to enter me in the draw - I already have a copy)

  4. I am glad you liked it Tamsin, so Lee is still on 100% LOL

  5. I've read a couple of Mr. Beevor's books and I wasn't wildly enthusiastic about either of them. I didn't dislike them but they didn't leave me wanting to suggest them to others, either. Maybe that's where some of the ''Meh'' from others came from. I did like a lot Roger Moorhouse's ''Berlin at War'' but then again my interests tend to run more in the direction of what world war 2 was like for the people not directly fighting in it, folks on the home front and whatnot. nice review, haven't read this one yet but maybe it will be added to the stack I am working through.