From Publishers Weekly
Allied special operations units fight and flounder in the ill-fated Market-Garden offensive in this colorful but unfocused WWII picaresque. Former Special Forces fighter Irwin (The Jedburghs
) recounts the exploits of three-man Jedburgh Teams sent into German-occupied Holland to organize Dutch resistance fighters in support of General Montgomery's infamous bridge too far debacle. The author focuses on two Americans: Lt. Harvey Allan Todd, who was taken prisoner by the Germans at Arnheim, and Maj. John Olmsted, who organized a secret intelligence network behind enemy lines. There's not much shape or significance to these largely unrelated plot lines, which concern some of the most ill-conceived and useless operations of the war. Olmsted lost important enemy plans; in Todd's case, an American rescue force is captured by the Germans and imprisoned in the very POW camp it was supposed to liberate. Still, the author vividly recounts many varieties of WWII experience: blood-and-guts combat set pieces; a tense espionage thriller; and a harrowing captivity narrative. Irwin's angle on the oft-told Market-Garden fiasco doesn't make for a grand epic, just a collection of well-told war stories. Photos, 4 maps. (Mar. 23)
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A thoroughly enthralling book for serious students of World War II, this is the labor of love of a Special Forces veteran with a rare talent for writing and research. He tells the story of the handful of small Jedburgh Teams dropped into the Netherlands to lead local resistance groups in offensive action. They immediately got sucked into the disastrous failure of Operation Market Garden, better known as the Arnhem operation (see Cornelius Ryan’s classic A Bridge Too Far, 1974). After that mismanaged affair crumbled, they faced survival against long odds in the ranks of the hard-pressed Dutch Resistance, death at the hands of the still resilient German occupation troops, and in one case survival by a hair’s breadth as a POW endured not only confinement but also grueling marches from east to west ahead of the advancing Russians. For exhaustive studies of little-known episodes that add much to general WWII knowledge as well as provide enthralling reading, this book is hard to beat. --Roland Green