Book review-the German Invasion of Norway

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Book review-the German Invasion of Norway

Post  Johan F. on Sun 1 Nov 2009 - 13:58

Book review- The German Invasion of Norway by Geirr Haarr

Just thought I`d write a quick review of one of the most recent books to be published on the war in Norway, here goes:

The German Invasion of Norway (TGION) is an outstanding book on the topic its name implies. While not a groundbreaking study, it is nevertheless the best effort so far to present an overall picture on the operation.

This book focuses almost exclusively on the naval aspect on the war, the air and land elements are only mentioned briefly when they are relevant to the combat at sea. As such, the topic is somewhat narrow, but this does allow for a deeper, more detailed coverage than other works spanning the entire width of the conflict.

I will especially praise the fact that this work is published in English. While this might deter a few Norwegian readers, it will make the story accessible to a much greater audience. Kudos!

The book goes into great detail on the lead-up to the invasion, and although I have read much of the previously published books on the subject, I am nevertheless struck again by the almost incomprehensible ignorance shown by Norwegian leaders in this period. How they could ignore so many signs and warnings that something was afoot is truly astonishing. Equally, as often mentioned, is how big a gamble the German effort really was, it succeeded only by sheer audacity, willpower and improvisation.

As the combat at sea is the main focus, naturally the Norwegian naval units` efforts are given much space, and it is very interesting to read about the actions of smaller vessels and coastal forts. While ultimately being unable to prevent the invasion, there were many skirmishes and smaller battles that are seldom mentioned, usually being overshadowed by more known events such as those around Narvik.

It also contains many less known photographs (I only wish there were more of them), as an example there is a picture of the British destroyer Glowworm, not just the usual one where she is crossing the path of the Hipper, but also one where she is about to sink, floating with her bow torn of in the accidental collision with the German cruiser.

Alas, the book also has its weaknesses. As mentioned, there should have been more photos, as well as more maps (though the maps that are included are quite good). The editor should also have done a better job, while the language is pretty good considering it was written by a non-native English speaker, it does shine through too often. Norwegian terms are also sprinkled throughout, while this adds flavor, the proper English term should have been given next to it (there is an all too brief glossary included).

It is not easy for non-Norwegian speaker to understand terms as sersjants and oberst for instance, and where does the word pansership come from? A work on Weserubung should also have included a chapter on the invasion of Denmark. As far as I understand, this was written but left out due to space considerations.
There are also some notable gaps in the story. Considering the impact it had on the conduct of the entire invasion, why is the cause of the German torpedo failures not discussed at length? It is only mentioned briefly that they did not work properly.
(FYI, they had faulty depth-keeping mechanisms as well as poorly designed detonators)

While these minor flaws do detract from the overall impression, it is still an excellent book, without doubt the best published on the subject by far.
It is interesting and highly readable, and I can recommend it to novices on the conflict as well as to the seasoned reader.

Johan F.

PS. This book sells for NOK 269 at Capris.no, actually quite a decent price considering its size and quality. Even cheaper at Amazon.com or .co.uk, less than NOK 200!

Johan F.

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Re: Book review-the German Invasion of Norway

Post  Bjørn on Mon 9 Nov 2009 - 15:11

Thanks a lot for posting!!

B

Bjørn

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