26 MARCH 1954, Page 34

N.-W. Europe, 1944-5. By John North. (H.M.S.O. 10s. 6d.) N.-W.

Europe, 1944-5. By John North. (H.M.S.O. 10s. 6d.)

Tms book is one of a series of short histories of the Second World War, written at the request of H.M. Government for the benefit of the general reader, pending the produc- tion of the official histories. It outlines the principal movements and actions of the campaign from the landings in Normandy to the final sweep through Germany, with the achievement of Field-Marshal Mont- gomery and the 21st Army Group as the central theme. Caen, the Falaise gap, Arnhem, the Rundstedt offensive and the crossings of the Rhine all fit into their places in the pattern. The author discusses the plans, decisions and differences of opinion among the senior commanders. He takes trouble to soften any suggestions of criticism and ends with personal eulogies which glow equally for all.

In condensing so great a story it must have been difficult for him to decide what to leave out, especially when writing for so nebulous a creature—a sort of unidenti- fiable displaced person in the world of books —as the 'general reader.' His method is descriptive rather than instructive and the reader who has lived through, or on the verge of, six years of drama may find some of the narrative rather highly coloured. The selected battle episodes are vividly described, but the author might, with advantage, have used more of the simplest of his own language and fewer quotation marks, which sometimes enclose obscure or unimportant phrases: He presents a fair picture of the campaign, which should be of wide general interest. G. M. 0. D.