BRUTE FORCE: Allied Strategy and Tactics in the Second World War by John Ellis

BRUTE FORCE: Allied Strategy and Tactics in the Second World War

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A decidedly critical audit that sheds new light on how the Allies employed their vastly superior material resources to defeat the Axis in WW II. In assessing the global conflict on a balance-sheet basis, British military historian Ellis (Cassino: The Hollow Victory, 1984, etc.) pursues two major themes: first, the enormous advantage the Allies enjoyed in aircraft, artillery, ships, tanks, and related armament; second, the less-than-optimum use American, British, and Russian commanders often made of the manpower and hardware at their disposal. Given the limited economic potential of both Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, Ellis concludes, neither had any real hope of victory once their foes weathered Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, Pearl Harbor, and other early setbacks. Even so, he argues in accessible overviews of major campaigns, Allied generals and admirals (consistently outclassed by their enemy counterparts) invariably failed to make the most of what they had. Despite crew fatality rates approaching 50%, strategic bombing of the Continent, Ellis shows, accomplished precious little beyond causing civilian casualties until well after D-day. In like vein, Ellis estimates that up to 40 German divisions could have been removed from battle had Bradley or Montgomery had the wit and will to close the Falaise Gap. They did not, of course, and months of savage combat lay ahead before Germany was battered into submission. Oceans away, the author believes, MacArthur was on the right track. Unfortunately, Ellis demonstrates, the US Navy had its own agenda; in consequence, a beleaguered Japan that might have been summarily vanquished by blockade fought on, exacting a terrible toll in defense of its home islands. Surprisingly, Ellis does not rank the A-bomb's use as an example of brute force. A painstakingly and persuasively documented case for the proposition that American steel and Russian blood, not tactical (let alone strategic) finesse, were decisive in the outcome of WW II. The engrossing text has a wealth of helpful statistical and tabular material, plus ten maps (not seen).

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Viking