A Magnificent Disaster – David Bennett

This book is about the Battle of Market-Garden, the September 1944 attempt to reach the Rhine RIver by the use of three Airborne Divisions to drop deep behind German lines, to be linked up to by the British striking overland up a single highway.

The book really isn’t a detailed review of the tactical operations of the battle, but more a summary of the behind-the-scenes decisions of the planners and how they impacted the ground battle. The emphasis was more on how the overall plan was playing out, and how the minute-by-minute decisions helped or hindered the overall plan.  So the book is less for those who want to know what happened – for that there are other books, but more for those who want to know why things happened as they did.

I suppose the short summary of the book’s point of view was that the plan was extremely risky and not well thought out, the supplies were insufficient, and the execution was lacking at several key points.  The faults were partly overcome by the incredible skill and bravery of the airborne troops.  This was sufficient to get the spearhead to the Rhine, but not over it. The British 1AB division was crushed by the German reaction and more or less destroyed.

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