A Magnificent Disaster: The Failure of Market Garden, David Bennett


A Magnificent Disaster: The Failure of Market Garden, David Bennett

Operation Market Garden is the topic of an ever increasing number of books, so to be worthwhile a new book has to take a new approach to the battle. Bennett's approach to this problem is to look at the entirety of the campaign, including its part in an overall strategic plan and the actions of all of the major units involved in the fighting, on both Allied and German sides.

This contrasts with many other books on the battle, which tend to focus either on one aspect of the fighting, or on the three most dramatic elements - the British and American airborne operations at the bridges at Arnhem and Nijmegen and the advance by XXX Corps along the narrow route towards Arnhem. Here we also get to see the battles fought by XII and VIII Corps on the flanks of XXX Corps, the 101st Airborne's success at Eindhoven, and the British 1st Airborne's battle to protect its landing zones.

A second key strength is that Bennett assumes that the reader already knows the basic outline of events. Rather than produce a narrative and then a separate analysis of the reasons for failure, the two aspects of the book are intertwined, with attempts made to discover who knew what at any point, what impact that had (or should have had on their decisions), and how earlier events influenced the later course of the campaign. Bennett also includes a clear analysis of the strategic aim of the battle, the tactical approach that should have been adopted and the reasons that they often were not. All in all this is a very useful addition to the literature on this iconic battle.

1 - The prospects for the Western Allies
2 - Two weeks of Allied preparation
3 - The other side of the hill
4 - An American triumph
5 - Airborne hiatus
6 - Black Tuesday
7 - Success clashes with failure
8 - Polonia Restituta
9 - Stagnation
10 - The Poles' second crossing of the Rhine
11 - Dithering and Deceit
12 - The last hope fades
13 - The night of the Canadians
14 - Assessment

1 - Chronology of Events
2 - The Supply Situation of 21st Army Group on the Eve of Market Garden
3 - The Air Forces in Operation Market Garden
4 - The Humiliation of General Sosabowski
5 - Brian Urquhart's Recollections of Intelligence at Arnhem
6 - Glossary of Terms and Acronyms

Author: David Bennett
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 286
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2011

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