An extraordinarily interesting piece of contemporary documentation- this history of the early years of the war when Britain held the bastions for the Western world. It is based on the diaries of Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, chief of staff of the British forces, a great and relatively unknown general whose decisions on strategy determined the course of the war. Men for whose roles he was responsible held the lime-light that he never sought. His was a role comparable to General Marshall. Fortunately for posterity he kept a diary, and now- when those diaries were to form the basis of this history, he annotated them, commenting after the event- but not changing the original context. There are, as a result, amazingly frank comments- and sometimes reversals in current review- on top ranking people,- Marshall, Eisenhower, F.D.R., his own associates, military and political. Of Churchill, with whom he was in constant contact, he wrote: ""He is quite the most difficult man to work with that I have ever struck, but I would not have missed the chance of working with him for anything on earth."" Frequently, he was at odds and in sharp disagreement with other policy makers. His usually was the final decision, as for example, on the second front, on the African invasion, on Sicily and Italy. Early in the war, with the Belgians and the French collapsing on his two flanks, he brought out the British Expeditionary Force to Dunkirk and escape. He did it a second time a few weeks later, when France stopped fighting without notifying him. His was a responsibility in those early years that few men could have faced; defeat seemed inevitable- except to men like Churchill and Alanbrooke. Today, it is important to recall those years, too easily forgotten in the ultimate victory. The mood, the spirit, the challenge come back in these pages. Arthur Bryant has made it General Alanbrooke's story, focussed against the week by week pattern of the war. A second volume is ultimately coming, but meantime this stands firmly on its own. As June selection of Book of the Month, it will win immediate recognition.