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Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945 Paperback – May 4, 2010
History To Repeat & Some To Not
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Top Customer Reviews
Roberts reconstructs the formal and informal interactions of Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff from their first conference in Newfoundland in 1941 to their last at Yalta in 1945. He examines the contentious debates over strategy, resources, and politics with an eye to the way personality and professionalism shaped the outcomes between strong-minded and capable leaders. In the process, he provides welcome sunlight on the contributions of Marshall and Brooke, overshadowed in history by more publicized leaders such as Eisenhower and Montgomery.
Roberts very capably captures the shifting dynamic of the US/UK alliance between 1941 and 1945, as initially superior British experience and forces in being eventually gave way to the maturing strategic thinking and far vaster resources of the Americans. In the process, Roberts closely reviews a number of topics of enduring interest to students of the Second World War, including the timing of OVERLORD, the efficacy of the Mediterranean strategy, and the influence of post-war considerations on the invasion of Germany.
"Masters and Commanders" walks an intriguing line between serious scholarship and popular history.Read more ›
The author in an Englishman, and the book is written in British English. He must be commended for his even-handedness as I could detect in only a very few places a slight pro-British bias. An example would be in his discussion of Dragoon (which the author felt was unnecessary) that the effort should have been made in the Scheldt estuary to open up Antwerp, but then he fails to mention that the Scheldt could have been opened immediately after Antwerp was captured and that it wasn't was strictly due to Montgomery's negligence. There are other small items missing (can't cover everything in only 585 pages) such as why the British were on the left flank in Normandy (that was then used as the reason why the British would gain control over Northern Germany.) The planner who put Montgomery on the left flank was General Frederick Morgan, the British General in charge of the planning for the cross-Channel invasion while Eisenhower and the armies were slaving away in the Mediterranean.
That being said, there is so much good here I don't know where to begin. The problems in running the Allied show were immense and almost every other book on World War II simply skates over the very real problems between the British and Americans as if we were always one big happy family.Read more ›
Historian Andrew Roberts does a masterful job of telling a very complex tale, relying heavily on the personal diaries on the men directly involved with determining Allied strategy for WWII, not just for Europe but ultimately across the entire conflict. Anyone with an interest in how a small group of extraordinary men arrived at the most momentous decisions yet taken by the human race, literally concerning the life and death for 10s of millions and with consequences affecting every person alive, then and now, will want to read this book.
Roberts is British and while his sympathies are obvious, his writing is fair and he is unsparingly in pointing out the flaws in his principals and their arguments and positions, whether they are British or American. His praise for their good -- often great -- points is likewise fair, genuine and unforced.
So why the "but"?
I think for all its merits, Roberts introduced a structural flaw into his book by virtue of the sources he relies on; the very thing that makes his book unique. Unavoidably, his main protagonist is Gen. Sir Alan Brook -- unavoidable because this is the man with whom Roberts' sympathies most clearly lie and because Brook left a detailed, day-by-day diary of the events narrated. Brook's diary is the thread that holds the narrative together.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is not about battles or weapons--it details the relationships between the major leaders of the Allies and how those relationships were tested and sometimes strained by... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Green
Very thoroughly researched and entertainingly written, Andrew Roberts presents a detailed look into how the two Western democracies formulated the grand strategy that guided the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by M Tucker
Interesting but, for me, too much minutia of little bitty details. But I didn't stop reading.Published 7 months ago by Susan
A very good book focusing on just the political and military leaders dealing with the war in Europe and the strategic differences (and ensuing arguments) between the two countries,... Read morePublished 10 months ago by johnbg
Good thorough review of the personalities and grand strategy that defeated Hitler. Well written and even handed account. Loved it.Published 11 months ago by Hilary Brown
This terrific book is packed with insight in regard to the ability of the British and American Commanders in WW2. Buy it, read it, enjoy it. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Christopher Kelly
Well-researched, detailed, and elegantly written, Masters and Commanders, is a virtual treatise on senior leadership during wartime. Read morePublished 14 months ago by The F7 Pawn