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Crete 1941: The Battle and the Resistance

3 February 2019

Crete 1941: The Battle and the Resistance, Sir Antony Beevor, 1991, ISBN 978-0-14-312642-3, 405 pp.

Crete 1941: The Battle and the Resistance by Sir Antony Beevor

Sir Antony Beevor is not only a world-renowned professional historian, especially regarding World War II, he is an author with intuitive insight and understanding of strategy, tactics and—especially—the human dimension. This makes Beevor’s writings extraordinary as well as outstanding. His writing is as unbiased as humanly possible so readers are rewarded with comprehensive understanding with respect to valor, humility, suffering and hubris. This understanding pertains to combatants on all sides as well as civilians caught in between. Too often military historians omit the civilian dimension or euphemistically dismiss the “collateral damage”—incredibly though tens of thousands can be swept up into starvation and death. Total war study brings the responsibility of total understanding and Beevor does not waiver from this duty.

Crete 1941: The Battle and the Resistance is a brilliant example of this credo. Readers learn the thinking and decisions behind Allied as well as Axis decisions from general staff to the grunts accomplishing their missions, and often not as implacable fate dictated. He also addresses the specific culture of the people of Crete in their resilience, warmth, long memory and bravery in housing Allied soldiers left behind in the retreat.

Beevor aids in the understanding of the Luftwaffe’s planning for a large-scale airborne assault and how close the battle was initially. It was not the overwhelming and immediate defeat as is often related in cold statistics. It was also not a victory enjoyed by the Wermacht as civilians as well as abandoned soldiers ensured. Beevor has provided a gift with his writing of this terrific and costly battle as well as the months long resistance which ensued. This is a story of incredible sacrifice and perseverance due to the human dimension which develops in combat environments—told well by Sir Antony Beevor and his credo. Bravo!

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