Intimidatingly researched, Kenney’s absorbing account of the Falklands War’s iconic Battle of Goose Green manages the weight of its subject with sobriety and pathos, if not consistent objectivity.
Twenty-five years after the Falklands War, Kenney’s meticulous rendering of this strategically pointless battle illuminates with minute detail the hows, wheres and whos, if not the whys, of a war that most historians agree should not have occurred. The author’s passion for the subject is palpable, and his factual legwork impressive. Gathering a broad array of sources, Kenney determinedly sets the stage for the central conflict between Thatcher-era Britain and junta-led Argentina. The account begins with past Falklands conflicts, trots out the major players and sheds light on the messy political obsessions leading up to the war. With as much detail as Kenney packs into the pages–in addition to seven chapters, the book contains five appendices, comprehensive chapter notes, a 12-page bibliography and an index–readers may expect the tone to favor data over author presence, but that’s not the case here. Kenney adulates Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Jones, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, as the emblematic British war hero, and General Leopoldo Galtieri, the military president of Argentina, draws the author’s full scorn, especially in a disdainful afterword. When the Battle of Goose Green and Darwin Hill arrives halfway through the narrative, Kenney renders British casualties with equal parts deep respect for heroism and clear frustration at its futility. By this point, it becomes evident that the hardscrabble soldiers of 2 Para–the â€œToms,” here given voice through painstakingly footnoted source material–merit a greater share of the attention that the author distributes to Jones.
A fascinating and vital, if lopsided, record of an important conflict in British military history.