Few Second World War generals are as controversial as Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery, first Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. Adored by his troops and the British public, yet despised by many peers, “Monty” salvaged the 8th Army in late 1942 after another disastrous summer, finally led a successful British counteroffensive in North Africa, then commanded the Allied forces in Normandy, and ended the war commanding British forces in North West Europe. In doing so, Monty put into effect the ideas he cultivated since tasting battle (and almost dying of combat wounds) during the First World War. In every command he ruthlessly placed his personal stamp, implemented his concepts, and molded the units into his own image.
Montgomery alienated many of his peers with his abrasive outspoken arrogance, fortunate to maintain the confidence and respect of a few patrons, such as General Brooke. Following D-Day, Monty’s controversial battlefield performance debated to this day, and clashes with peers and superiors put Monty’s career in jeopardy, and those friendships saved his career. Postwar, in roles not suited to him, his arrogance and self-aggrandizement alienated many of his few remaining friends; Montgomery barely escaped an embarrassing libel lawsuit from General Auckinleck.
In Bernard Montgomery, this 9th book of Osprey’s series COMMAND, author Tim Moreman PhD, illuminates the life and career of Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery. In 64 pages featuring dozens of photographs plus eight maps and illustrations by artist Graham Turner, the life and service of Monty are brought to life. Dr. Moreman examines Montgomery’s childhood, personal relationships, battle experiences, interwar period, training, staff, commands, strengths and weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, and main opponent, Rommel. Additionally, the postwar record and evaluations of the Field Marshal are explored.
Bernard Montgomery is presented to you in 64 pages divided into 10 sections:
• THE EARLY YEARS
• THE MILITARY LIFE, 1906-42
• THE HOURS OF DESTINY
• OPPOSING COMMANDERS
• INSIDE THE MIND
• WHEN WAR IS DONE
• A LIFE IN WORDS
• SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
I am intrigued by Dr. Moreman’s descriptions and assessments of Monty and his methods. Without seeming to excuse the commander’s flaws, Dr. Moreman offers some amazing insights to Monty’s tactics and strategies: the British army was a ravaged force that, incapable of outfighting the Germans tactically, had to rely on methodical and overwhelming application of material to minimize casualties and preserve morale until the collapse of the Nazis. This is not offered as a criticism of Monty’s generalship, nor the proud and esteemed Royal Army, although Monty’s inability to command ‘fast and loose’ is glaringly examined in his comparison to Rommel. In the end, of course, Monty held the winning hand. Rommel was dead, the Nazis were beaten, and Montgomery lived out his life as a national hero.
Many of the photographs will be familiar to those who have read similar topics, and I found some I have not seen before. Several are in color. They all illuminate the accompanying text. For the modeler, some are fascinating – Monty’s command truck, his M-3 Lee command tank, Monty at play with his dogs.
Mr. Turner enriches the book with his illustrations. The three paintings are traditional brush on canvas instead of the CGI graphics that is so popular nowadays. Each is accompanied by a narrative text box. Surprisingly, there is no portrait of the Field Marshal in his unique uniform.
It is difficult for me to find complaint with this work. The text is detailed, engaging, informative, and very readable. The illustrations and maps pull you into the subject. The only issue I have is that Rommel is the only opposing commander discussed. Montgomery faced others in Sicily, Italy, and Northwest Europe, and his style and record against them would enhance our understanding of the Field Marshal.
Whether you are a historian or modeler, Bernard Montgomery exposes a fascinating view of, "this brilliant but deeply flawed man." I certainly recommend this book to both fans and critics of Field Marshal Montgomery, first Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.
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Highs: Well researched, interesting analysis, clearly explained. Many interesting illustrations and photographs.Lows: Only Rommel is discussed in comparison.Verdict: A fascinating exposé of this famous and controversial general.
About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR) FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES
I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art.
My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling!
My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...