A military history of the 41-day war waged in 1982 between Britain and Argentina for the Falkland (or Malvinas, if you're Argentinian) Islands, written, one hastens to add, by a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Middlebrook (The Peenemunde Raid, The Battle of Hamburg, The First Day on the Somme, among others) has two strikes against him for starters. First, as one wag has written, the battle over the Falklands was ""like two bald men fighting over a comb""; a history of that straggle proves just as interesting. Second, a truly objective story would have to be told by someone shielded from the passions that this crisis invoked on both sides. Middlebrook isn't that person. Though he struggles occasionally to be fair, he always ends up throwing out a ""but"" or an ""although"" for Britain's cause. Typical are phrases such as ""I am trying to be unbiased in this book and to keep my personal feelings to a minimum, but. . ."" Approximately 1,000 soldiers died in the episode (75% of them Argentinian). In retrospect, the result appears to have been inevitable, although its effect on the Argentine government may have been the most crucial, from the long-term view (it indirectly led to the overthrow of the repressive military government and the establishment of civilian control on the mainland). Middlebrook uses military maps to good effect in describing naval engagements and air strikes, and one is left in awe of the quickness and sureness with which the British naval forces were deployed after almost 40 years in mothballs. This might possibly earn the title ""definitive"" by default--simply because no one else would bother.