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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Allies breakout and pursue
There are already many good books on the Normandy experience and Mr Prados's new book is on that list. Its concise yet it covers the key elements after the landing. It has many fine attributes yet being smaller than some books like John A. Adams's "The Battle for Western Europe" or Carlo D'Este's "Decision in Normandy", it doesn't have as much depth in certain areas. One...
Published on July 25, 2011 by Dave Schranck

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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars pass on this one
There are so many great books on Overlord, D-Day, Normandy, etc. that, unless you absolutely need one more book to read on this subject, you can take a pass on this one. Normandy Crucible fails to offer any unique perspectives, new insights or facts and the writing style and organization are difficult. Getting through the book, one wonders, in terms of narrative, where...
Published on August 20, 2011 by M. D. Terry


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Allies breakout and pursue, July 25, 2011
This review is from: Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe (Hardcover)
There are already many good books on the Normandy experience and Mr Prados's new book is on that list. Its concise yet it covers the key elements after the landing. It has many fine attributes yet being smaller than some books like John A. Adams's "The Battle for Western Europe" or Carlo D'Este's "Decision in Normandy", it doesn't have as much depth in certain areas. One area that it excels over the other two books is intelligence gathering with regards to ULTRA, Britain's code breaking apparatus and how it helped the commanders shape their battlefield tactics.

The mini profiles of the key commanders and how they worked together or in some cases how personality differences disrupted Allied cohesion was very interesting. Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton take top honors while Hodges, Collins and Middleton are in second echelon. For the British Montgomery and Brooks receive the most attention while Dempsey and Churchill less so. The Canadians, French and Poles are also covered.
Mr Prados does a nice job of describing the good and bad aspects of these relationships but he is clearly more lienient on the Allied big three than the other two books mentioned. An explanation on why several of Montgomery's operations were planned in such a way as to reduce British casualties. With tanks leading the advance, huge numbers were destroyed by German panzers and 88 flak guns. He also does a nice job of defending Canadian performance against Montgomery's criticism.
On the German side Rommel, Kluge are discussed a lot but Rundstedt, Eberbach, Warlimont, Jodl are also discussed but on a smaller scale. Hitler is given the most attention, being showered with criticism on his battlefield decisions. You do see his mental makeup, his gambler's instincts that caused him to be on the offensive as much as possible.

A thumbnail sketch of what's covered on the battlefield includes: For the months of June and July the trouble in the Caen sector and to its immediate west the troubles in advancing on the Villers-Bocage, Hill 112, Mount Pincon axis.
While there is brief coverage of the importance of the port of Cherbourg^ the coverage doesn't really start in the American sector until the planning and execution of Operation Cobra, the activation of 3rd Army and the subsequent pursuit and pocketing of the Germans near Falaise. The British / Canadian operations into breaking through and reaching Falaise from the north and the Operation Cobra, Operation Liege and the closing of the pocket from the southern side are done quite well. The difficulties of Simonds in reaching Falaise and the valiant deployment of the Poles to close the gap are included. Allied control of the skies is frequently mentioned. You will also read about the ordeals on the German side in preventing the Allies from breaking through and just like the Allies, the Germans also had troubles with personalities and differences in strategic planning. The main story ends with the French Resistance and the liberation of Paris. A new or intermediate student will learn a lot of this critical time period. (^Much is said about the importance of ports and the logistic problems that faced the Allies from the very beginning.)

The author also includes six timely B&W maps as well as a small gallery of photos. Also included is a competent Notes Section, an awesome Bibliography of primary and secondary sources and an Index. The Notes and Bibliogtaphy will be a big help if further research is wanted.

The summary chapter totals up the costs for both sides and describes some of the things the Allies learned in these early months that will help them in the rest of the war. You will also learn how by the end of August, the Allies were over confident as well as how the Germans miraculously regrouped and stabilized their line in September.
This is an excellent overview and anybody interested in Normandy should consider reading this fine book.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Military History at it's Best, July 8, 2011
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This review is from: Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe (Hardcover)
I have read several of John Prado's books. HIs range of writing from Dien Bien Phu to The Japanese's Navy, has never been dull.

And he has with out doubt "has done it again". His newest work "Normandy Crucible" is a well crafted history of the great Allied Breakout from Normandy.

His skill at you using actually combat narritives and intelligence information give the reader an excellent veiw of how commnad decisions were made by both the Allied and German High Commands.

Mr Prado's breaks out and down the items that help the reader understand....it is better then just a history book that tells you what happened. "He" shows you and more importantly explains what happen.

AN EXECELLENT BOOK!!!!!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written military history, July 27, 2011
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This review is from: Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe (Hardcover)
This book is a well written military history about the battle of Normandy in 1944 from the D-Day landing until the end of the battle of the Falaise Gap. The book does a very good job of balancing military strategy and what was happening at the top: Eisenhower, Bradley, Montgomery, etc. with what was occuring on the ground.

Unlike some books of this type, it doesn't just get into the moving of units - which can be very boring. It lays out what happened at a strategic level and then drills down to the tactical level at the turning point - at the point when the battle would turn from one side to another.

On the negative side, although the maps are excellent, in the Kindle version, you need a magnifying glass to read them.

The author claims that this was a decisive battle in World War II in Europe and recently in a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, I read a rebuttal to this. Well, I agree with the author. The WSJ rebuttal compares this battle with the Russian offensive in June, 1944 - Operation Bagration. During the battle of Normandy, the US and British fought many crack troops, including at least four SS panzer divisions and at least 4 other panzer divisions, while in Operation Bagration, there were only two German panzer divisions defending against the Russians. The Normandy invasion caused that and resulted in the lopsided victory of the Russians over the Germans in June, 1944 including total Russian air superiority. Without the Normandy Crucible, none of that would have happened.

So, I agree with the author, this was a decisive campaign - probably the most decisive of World War II in Europe resulting in no chance for German victory. And, the author does the best job that I've read on the sharing that. However, if you want to read the maps, stay away from the Kindle version.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars pass on this one, August 20, 2011
By 
M. D. Terry (memphis tennessee) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe (Hardcover)
There are so many great books on Overlord, D-Day, Normandy, etc. that, unless you absolutely need one more book to read on this subject, you can take a pass on this one. Normandy Crucible fails to offer any unique perspectives, new insights or facts and the writing style and organization are difficult. Getting through the book, one wonders, in terms of narrative, where am I? And why?Choppy writing and weak editing makes this book a difficult read, absent of good structure and flow. Prados knows his stuff, for sure . . . that's not a problem, so if you want another factual recount of the Normandy campaign, this one is okay. Struggling through NC will make you yearn for the eloquence and style of Cornelius Ryan, Stephen Ambrose, Malcolm Gladwell, David McCullough, and John Barry . . . allowing for comparison of Prados against the best of the best. If you've read five or ten other books on the subject, then this may be your next and it marginally might even entertain and inform you.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First-rate Military History, July 23, 2011
This review is from: Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe (Hardcover)
This is a first-rate account of the Battle of Normandy, from the June 1944 invasion beaches on the French coast to the liberationn of Paris two and one-half months later. It is a fast-moving story, focusing on high-level command and control, with refrshing new insights and perspectives on both the battle and its decisive influence on the rest of the war. Allied and German plans and operations are well integrated, with new material on the German side. Combat actions are excitingly told, although more and better maps would have been helpful.

Particularly useful is Prados' examination of the key roles of intelligence and logistics as well as the personalities and ambitions of senior commanders. His descriptions of rivalries and conflicts between the latter -- and for that matter between Hitler and his generals -- are especially useful. One striking example is his discussion of how the failed attempt on Hitler's life in July shaped subsequent German strategy and operations.

A unique, interesting appendix describes and illustrates how war-gaming can be an effective tool for understaning the battle.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Normandy Crucible, January 20, 2012
By 
Kenneth Hite (3 Center Knolls Bronxville, NY 10708) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe (Hardcover)
Most histories of the battles in Normandy rely heavily on what the Generals reported in their memoirs. With the 20/20 hindsight of history (and access to Ultra decrypts that those Generals used to make decisions) Prados makes it evident that those memoirs were, at best, self-serving.

For example, who actually made the decision to stop at Argentan allowing Germans to escape from the Falais Pocket? How many Germans escaped? Prados uses decrypts to uncover the truth about the decision making process--and none of the Generals (Eisenhower, Bradley, Montgomery, and Patton) fares well in his analysis.

Bradley and Eisenhower earn kudos for their recognition that after the failed counterattack at Mortain, a Battle of Cannae annihilating the German army was now possible. Patton reluctantly turned north and headed for Argentan, but Bradley permitted no advance beyond Argentan; and thus, a narrow escape route remained for the Germans.

Who was to blame? Prados argues that Bradley feared that the stampeding Germans would overwhelm Haislip's Corp at Argentan. Montgomery, ever jealous of his role in history, wanted the British--not Poles or Canadians and certainly not Americans to win the prize. The result was a cautious British advance that merely pushed the Germans out of the pocket without ever closing it. Apparently, much to Mongomery's surprise, the Poles and Canadians almost closed the gap anyway.

Monty's `push the bottom of the balloon' strategy would rear its ugly head later in Belgium when he was tasked with closing the Bulge.

Ken Hite is author of A Day at the Beach June 6, 1941.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Allied breakout from Normandy., September 18, 2011
By 
Kevin M Quigg (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe (Hardcover)
This book began slow, but had a strong finish.

The author shows how the initial invasion and then two month stalemate in the Normandy pensinsula was a challenging time for the Allies. He also shows the weaknesses of both the Germans and Allied side. The Allies were masters of the sky and also had a preponderance of force. However the Germans fought a good delaying action.

This also shows the strengths of Bradley and Eisenhower. Patton and Montgomery like to portray these generals as nothings, but they were more brilliant than either of them. Bradley devised the program that led to the breakout from the peninsula. He also let a large amount of Germans go from the Falaise pocket, and these ultimately formed the basis for the German Western Front force.

I think the author did a great job of evaluating this battle from a fifty year perspective. He had the Ultra code information analyzed in this perspective. He also reviewed the major decisions from both the German and Allied perspective. Overall, a very good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good work,concise,fair and correct.Emphasis on US Army ,July to Paris., July 7, 2013
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I have read most significant books about Normandy but this book added to my knowledge and understanding of the events of this important period.
The book starts essentially with the July effort of the Americans to get out of bocage country and advance into France.It devotes very few pages to the Normandy landings and the activities of the British that were stuck in front of Caen and focuses on the planning and execution of Gen. Bradley's Cobra operation to break out and into Brittany and the turn toward Paris.that covers the first half of the book and all the month of July 1944 .the description of the operation is well done accurate and detailed enough for this operation to be fully understood without insistence on insignificant details.
In this part of the book the role of ULTRA and other intelligence sources in the Allied decision making process is presented and evaluated.this is followed by a sound strategic analysis both of Allied strategy and German strategy.
The author very clearly demonstrates the capacity and capability of Eisenhower for Grand Strategy when he decided,first and alone,the great turn of the Allied forces to the East toward Paris,abandoning the plans for the conquest of Brittany first,and explains fairly the roles of Bradley ,Patton and the rest.The author thus dispels the smear campaign that Monty and Alanbrooke mainly but also some repeater Historians propagated.The author is soft on Monty's operational stagnation but anyway the myth of Monty's generalship has been debunked by most modern Historians.
Prof. Prados analyses German strategy rationally and deeply without falling into the trap to blame everything on Hitler's madness..Overall he provides a sober,succinct and meaningful interpretation of strategic decisions and intents.
The second part starts with the German counter attack-operation Liege.Prof Prados describes German tactics and their limitations in the application of OKW desires and orders.The counter actions of the Americans are also very clearly outlined.
The author proceeds to explain clearly how the Falaise trap was conceived and executed.It is a very good analysis and a honest evaluation.
The book ends with the drive to Paris.the role of intelligence in this campaign is presented more and better than most other works.
There are many good books about the Normandy campaign. Prof Prados work is one of them and because it is short it can serve as a very good Primer for this period
DVK
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work, November 26, 2012
By 
Thomas E. Gill (Wheaton, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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I thought it was an excellently written, brief summary of the Normandy campaign. I have recommended it to myu friends interested in the western Europe campaign.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent new work on a much covered topic - highly recommended, November 18, 2012
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This is an excellent account of the Normandy Campaign [landings through the fall of Paris 1944]. The author is a noted scholar, author and board game designer [Third Reich, etc.]. His specialty Is the history of intelligence. This shows in the excellent work he does synthesizing what has emerged about SIGINT [Ultra, etc.] with the actual operational details of the campaign. Dr. Prados is the first writer on this topic to seriously tie in the effects of the failed bomb plot with German operational decisions. He also does an excellent job of resolving the conflicting accounts of the major allied commanders and the gaps in the immediate postwar histories. Of special importance is how he ties together decisions made at the macro level [German mobilization of Volks Grenadier divisions and new panzer brigades] with their ability to rally on the German frontier after the race across France. I found his thesis that the Ardennes Offensive in December can be traced back to a proposal for a major multicorps German strike against the Normandy lodgment a stretch but Dr. Prados makes an excellent presentation of available facts. There is also a lovely chapter on how he modified the old SPI board game Cobra to test his conclusions on the campaign [I did find myself wishing he had included a URL and created a web posting of the variant rules and OOB as I would love to have played it myself]. I must also congratulate the author and his publisher on truly excellent maps that made following the text a joy. Highly recommended.
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Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe
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