Top critical review
Nowhere near the quality of Snow and Steel
Reviewed in the United States on May 28, 2019
I’d quite looked forward to this book but am sorely disappointed. It reads like a large mass of undigested notes. And its accuracy is more what one might expect from guided luxury tours for the wealthy of WWII sites than serious historical research. Clark Gable, for example, did not give up his then astronomical Hollywood salary to be an Air Force Captain in England. Actually (check his obituary in the Los Angeles Times -- no paywall -- if you doubt me), he enlisted as a private, the military immediately sent him to OCS in Florida, when he graduated as a Second Lieutenant he was sent to train as an aerial gunner, then arrived in Britain as a First Lieutenant, and was later promoted to Captain, then Major. Of such facts are history made, but evidently not Sand and Steel.
I’m not a scholar but I have doubts also about the bibliography. It appears to contain everything plus the kitchen sink, yet strangely omits books I should have thought deserved inclusion. The wartime diary, for example, of David K.E. Bruce, head of OSS in London during the war and later Ambassador to many capitols and a leading figure in US foreign policy. I found his diary relevant to D Day because Bruce was in a ship off the landing zone during the event and, typically for him, had a number of incisive observations.
* I was going to add a third star to my review because the book picks up after about page 300, but instead I've subtracted a star, bringing it down to a minimum one star, because there's no reference in the index to John Cecil Masterman, the Twenty Committee, the Double-Cross system, or any of the organized deceptions that fooled the Germans, and especially Hitler, into expecting the Allied invasion at Pas-de-Calais, thus greatly helping to make a Normandy invasion successful. What a glaring omission! To give XX short shrift would have been a serious error, to omit it entirely in a 1,000-plus page book is surely a cardinal sin.