Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Review: Fall Gelb (1) -Airborne Assault on the Low Countries



Fall Gelb 1940 (1) Panzer Breakthrough in the West, Osprey Campaign, 264. 
Written by Douglas C. Dildy, Illustrated by Peter Dennis. Co. 2014, Osprey Publishing.  96 pages, widely illustrated in black and white with color prints. 

Scope – A single Campaign
Completeness – High
Appeal  - Low 
Accuracy - *


In 1940, in a stunningly successful blitzkrieg campaign, the Nazis over ran the democracies of western Europe. This book, the first of two volumes, tells that story. On the positive side, it is beautifully illustrated with historical photographs, modern photographs of monuments, battle sites, restored takes and such, paintings, and beautiful maps. It contains lots of detailed information. On the negative side, however, it is dry reading and difficult to absorb. Although I am quite sure many will appreciate this level of detail, and such people will love this volume and know that Osprey is a good place to look for such detail, I am afraid I was not among them.
                A single paragraph chosen while reading today should illustrate what I mean.:

                In Heeresgruppe A’s area, Sperrle’s initial effort was less consistent. I. Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader 1’s (I./KG 1) raid on Cambrai Niergnies decimated one ZOAN fighter group (GC III/2; air cover for General Georges Blanchard’s 1ere Armee), destroying eight MS 406s  and damaging five more so seriously that General Tetu had to transfer another unit (GC III/7) from ZOAE to replace it. Other Heinkels destroyed seven Potez 63-11 and Bloch 174 reconnaissance aircraft (GR II/33 and GR II/36) while Do 17Zs knocked out five Am 143 bombers (GB II/34) and six Fairey battles, as well as caused serious damage to hangars and workshops at three AASF bases.   (taken from page 31.)

                If that level of dry detail appeals to you, so will this book. If not, I suggest finding a more basic, more general work on the subject that focuses a bit more on the human aspect of what happened. Of course, one is not better than the other. But in my opinion, this is a specialized work and aimed at a specialized audience who should enjoy it.
                It is difficult to know how many stars to give this book. Some might say three, as it is rather boring, some would say five, as it gives great detail on which group went where when. I will give it four, and stay safely in the middle. 


Book Review: Fall Gelb (2) -- Osprey Campaigns 265




Fall Gelb 1940 (2) Airborne Assault on the Low Countries, Osprey Campaign, 265. 
Written by Douglas C. Dildy, Illustrated by Peter Dennis. Co. 2015, Osprey Publishing.  96 pages, widely illustrated in black and white with color prints. 

Scope – A single Campaign
Completeness – High
Appeal  - Low 
Accuracy - *

Osprey has released a pair of books describing how the Nazis over ran the democracies of western Europe in 1940. This book, the second of two volumes, tells more of the story. Previously, I wrote a review of the first volume. Basically what I wrote was that although a target audience for the book existed, and that target audience would be quite pleased with the volume, I thought, I was not part of that target audience and had difficulty judging the quality of the work. I found the scope too large and the text too detailed and too fact filled to easily follow the events that were described. I did, however, feel that to a reader with a better background in the campaign and the history, the book would be easier to follow and more useful. In short, it was not a beginner’s book and I was a beginner in understanding the period and the conflict.
                But what about volume two? Good news. For whatever reason I found this one easier to understand. Therefore, I enjoyed it more.
                Of course, it has the same great illustrations as its predecessor, the sorts of illustrations that Osprey is well known for. These include paintings, color photographs of modern battle sites, monuments, and museum displays, many black and white period photographs, as well as maps.  

                In conclusion, this is a good book for those seeking information on this campaign.