BESIEGED: Seven Cities Under Siege by J. Bowyer Bell

BESIEGED: Seven Cities Under Siege

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The seven contemporary sieges Bell recreates and studies for a general theory of sieges are more interesting for deduction than evocation. Bell proceeds on a process-and-pack the facts method, and the sieges under his lens are those of Madrid (1936-1939); London's aerial siege (1940-1941); the Singapore fortress (1941-1942); Stalingrad (1942-1943); Warsaw (1939--The Ghetto uprising, 1943--the Underground insurrection, 1944); Jerusalem (1947-49), and the diplomatic siege of Berlin during the blockade (1945-49). Each subject is fascinating. And yet each has been covered more vividly elsewhere. Bell skims over the really tight example of a successful siege (he finds most sieges useless militarily), that of the Alcazar, and spends his longest chapter on the sprawlingly mishandled (by Fran) siege of Madrid. Simply as reading, his study of London's resistance never hits the intensity of Collier's Eagle Day (p. 466) or Cecil Eby's The Siege of the Alcazar (1965-p.973). Where Bell excels is in his tags at the beginnings and endings of chapters and in his final assessment chapter, where he develops his ideas of modern city fighting. A siege will almost certainly fail without massive manpower and ammunition to use against the enemy in his ruined honeycomb.... However, the study has an imaginative scheme behind it and it may have some very unlikely people for readers.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1966
Publisher: Chilton