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Storming Eagles: German Airborne Forces in World War II Hardcover – January 1, 2004
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The book is written in a style that blends detailed eye-witness accounts with broader strokes of operational history. This is of course the most common way to write military history books, but James Lucas does so better than most authors. He does not bog down in unnecessary details, yet manages to keep the reader aware of which unit was where and why.
Mr. Lucas holds the German paratroppers very dear, yet he comes of as well balanced and unbiased is his interpretation of the events.
The one negative thing I have to say about the book is the lack of maps (an all to common problem in this genre). To fully enjoy it you need to have a healthy dose of WW2 geography in your backpack. Still it doesn't cause enough fuss to give the book anything other than the highest grade.
Storming Eagles contains lucid descriptions of the Fallschirmjaeger actions that most will be familiar with (e.g., the drop on Crete in '41), as well as lesser know para-ops (e.g., ****). Yet, the largest portion of the book is devoted to ground actions (no drop or glider troop delivery) of the Jaeger forces, since Hitler concluded early in the War that airborne ops was not efficient use of manpower (much like much of the Allied high command throughout the war) and thus used his elite troops as 'fire-brigades' wherever needed to plug holes or stem Allied pushes. Again it is not hard when reading such accounts to imagine one is reading about Allied airborne forces as those forces were also used as 'fire-brigades' (re: Bastogne during the Ardennes counteroffensive), although certainly not as frequently. As the War proceeded more and more infantry were needed as replacements for dwindling manpower in both Allied and Axis camps, so it should not be that surprising that both commands looked to there elite paratroopers as a source of battle-worthy infantry grunts; better trooper were fighting in ground actions then sitting idle in embarkation camps awaiting airborne ops that never materialized. Lucas gives a good accounting of Jaeger actions throughout the war, a task not made easy by the fact that Hitler chose to utilize these troops piecemeal rather than as whole Divisional units. Hence, the story Lucas presents is one that required rather painstaking research to track down para groups when they were integrated into a variety of Wehrmacht and SS formations scattered in operations from the Middle East, to the Western and Eastern fronts, and actions near the Artic Circle. Lucas' efforts should be lauded, certainly the reader gains from his hard work!
In the end, Storming Eagles is a very solid read worthy of picking up even if one is not especially interested in German paratroops during WWII. This book is valuable for a multitude of reasons and is pure military history fun. 4.5 stars.
This present volume, originally published in 1988 by Arms and Armour Press, is now available in a lower priced Cassell paperback war classic.
These tough, well trained men who wore the Parachutist's jump badge of the silver wreath with the golden eagle descending, were some of Germany's finest special forces groups. From 1935 through 1945, these men were generally in the thick of combat wherever the Reich needed them most. And from the 1940 assault on Eben Emael and the invasion of Crete in 1941 onward they took on the patina and glimmer of a hard, tough fighting group. In the final days of 1945 when the British were assaulting the Westwall and Reichswald, the "bloody para boys" were the ones they least wanted to face. These hardened troops also saw action in the key theatres of North West Europe, North Africa, and on the Eastern Front.
James Lucas covers all aspects of this specialized group of men from 1940 through 1945, and does it pretty much in historical order. Hardly a page in this book exists without photographs (hardcover edition) and the maps are excellent, too.
Should you have interest in any of the special forces of the Reich, especially these fallshirmjagers, then this book is one you must see.