Monday, February 15, 2016

Eisenhower's Armies: The American-British Alliance During World War II (Niall Barr)

Eisenhower's Armies by Niall Barr recounts the British-American alliance during World War II, focusing on the relationship between the British and Americans in combating the Axis powers in Western Europe.  It's the story of two different nations, one on the rise and one who fought gallantly in the early wars of  the war, and how these armies had to learn to live, work, and fight together despite tactical and philosophical disagreements on how to fight the war.

Barr, whose specialty is 20th Century History, delivers painstaking details of the relationship between the United States and Great Britain. If you like insight, the author goes way beyond World War II and talks about the history of American-British military relations going back to the Colonial Era.  While important for context, the depth and breadth of what was covered by Barr was arguably excessive if you value a quick read.  At 470 pages, this book can grind into some level of detail and would require an occasional re-read or two to get points across.

It would also have been a benefit to see more coverage devoted to the air campaign and coordination between the United States and Great Britain.  While some coverage was devoted to the importance of the British air support in North Africa, more could have been devoted to the coverage of the last year of conflict, specifically in how the United States and Britain worked together effectively through air sorties in the Battle of the Bulge and the attacks the Allied forces provided in advance of the invasion at Normady.  This could have been provided at the expense of an exhaustive back story into the relationship between the Americans and Brits.  Nonetheless, the book is an effective historical account of the "Special Relationship" and its evolution over time.