A guide crafted for people interested in touring historic battle sites by car, Mueller’s examination of the failed World War II Allied Operation: Market Garden is remarkably thorough as it encompasses both the wider plan for this invasion of the occupied Netherlands as well as the actions of individual soldiers and civilians. In a methodical fashion, Mueller offers an abundance of historical detail while still providing a crisp overview of the mission and the goals of the major divisions involved (including the American 101st and 82nd Airborne). Each division’s mission is broken down into surveys of individual actions and battles, complete with summaries, maps, extensive footnotes offering additional biographical information, and specific coordinates for those visiting modern memorials.
A wealth of fascinating anecdotes accompanies the overarching details of the operation. Mueller’s account emphasizes a crucial truth: No matter how an operation is planned by the officers, it’s up to the courage of the soldiers to carry them out. He illustrates this with stories of bravery and ingenuity from soldiers and civilians, including the Dutch resistance fighter cutting wires to a bridge that the Germans were going to destroy, the soldiers who escape a hospital prison on foot, and the farmer who talks Germans out of using a bridge by telling them it’s too fragile. Mueller’s judgment at times is harsh, especially on the British officers whose arrogant planning failures that led directly to the deaths of thousands.
The book’s practical purpose makes it a tough straight-ahead read, even for armchair historians. Instead, it’s intended as a field guide, and as such it’s jammed with invaluable details that would illuminate a traveler’s experience. The exercise of reading these accounts where they actually occurred supports Mueller’s idea that war is always a traumatic local experience dependent on the actions of individuals. When those individuals are betrayed by bad planning, the sacrifices become even more tragic.
Takeaway: Readers interested in the minutia of military operations will be fascinated by this guide’s thoroughness.
Great for fans of: Cornelius Ryan’s A Bridge Too Far, John Buckley’s Operation Market Garden: The Campaign For the Low Countries 1944: Seventy Years On.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
— Booklife Review