Wednesday, August 12, 2015

'The Tank war' - Mark Urban


I've just finished reading this remarkable book.


Urban has written two similar histories - 'Fusilier' (or 'how the British Army lost North America and learned how to fight'), and 'Rifles' (the story of the 95th Rifles ... think Richard Sharpe .. in the Napoleonic Wars). Urban writes the most delightful history, gathering together what is most often never before accessed archival material to offer a very personal view of war from the point of view of the individual men who fought (think private soldiers, not generals).

In this case it is the story of the 5th Royal Tank Regiment through World war 2. He chose the regiment not because he thought it was something special (although it was a part of 7th Armoured Division, the famous 'Desert Rats') but because if offered the richest source of surviving archival material.

Urban pulls no punches. There re tories of men abandoning tanks out of fear, buy so too there are stories of citizen soldiers who learn how to fight. He offers the second robust rebuttal of the old fable that British Armoured units were inferior in both hardware and 'software', without glossing over the failings of the unit in combat in the desert and Europe.

This review does the book justice - highly recommended if you have an interest in WW2, or in historiography (or BOTH!!).

Thanks for the 'heads up' on the documentary:



8 comments:

  1. ..that's going on my list - an excellent writer.author - didn't know he'd written that

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    1. Published 2014.. I 'stumbled' on it while spending a day doing the 'shops' in Brisbane after a conference
      R

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  2. If you're interested, there's a matching TV doco presented by Urban, not sure if this came before or after the book. Suffers a bit from the usual ills of modern dumbed-down doco-making, but still worth a look. Book is better though!

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    1. That's really interesting.. I'll see if I can spot it. Thanks
      R

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    2. It's worth a look as he has a quite a few interviews with the survivors throughout it, which are wonderful.

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    3. I've added the Youtube link at the bottom. Nice work.. thanks

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  3. Replies
    1. Definitely.. a MUST READ IMO thoroughly readable and enjoyable. I love this guy's work.
      R

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