Book review- Hitler`s Pre-emptive War by Henrik O. Lunde

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Book review- Hitler`s Pre-emptive War by Henrik O. Lunde

Post  Johan F. on Wed 27 Jan 2010 - 13:33

Hitler`s Pre-emptive war : The Battle for Norway, 1940 by Henrik O. Lunde


The Norwegian-American Lunde has succeeded in writing a thorough, well-balanced account of the fighting around Narvik in 1940.
By using accounts from all sides, but not accepting even recent publications at face value, he has managed to tell the story with fresh eyes.

The title of the book is slightly misleading, however. It focuses strongly on the fighting around Narvik, and other actions in and around Norway are only included in order to put the Narvik campaign into context. This is not an oversight, the author himself states in the introduction that the book was initially to be exclusively about Narvik, but he later felt that he had to expand the coverage to include some info on the rest of the fighting.

The run-up to the war in Norway is covered in great detail, though, showing how Norway gradually but inevitably was drawn into what was to become a worldwide conflict. While not entirely new info, it is still somewhat uneasy to read in detail how political and military maneuvering in Britain blatantly disregarded Scandinavian neutrality in order to hinder the iron ore traffic, while simultaneously drawing Germany into a theatre where they believed they had the upper hand.
The Germans would have preferred a neutral Norway, but could not accept a situation where the country was either allied to or dominated by Great Britain.
Not surprisingly, many accounts from the participants are highly biased, but by frank comparison of sources and sound judgment, the impact of this is negated.

Ground ops are covered in great detail, undoubtedly the most comprehensive account in English, but also surpassing many Norwegian works. Norwegian, French and Polish forces are given more credit than usually afforded to them.
The author`s military background is evident throughout and is of great value, whether describing the strategic-tactical moves, or when relating combat on squad level.

It does have some flaws, one of which is quite serious. Maps!
There is a small map section at the end of the book, but the quality is very poor. Local geographical names and unit designations abound, but it is very hard to put the action into proper context with the provided maps. (And I have even served in the area for some years…)
The book should really have included a lot more maps, in much better detail. Personally I would also have preferred them to be spread throughout the text, rather than having them all in one section.
Some 16 pages of pictures are provided, but they are all well-known, and the emphasis is on the text itself.
On the other hand, I have only found one minor factual mistake: The Germans did have ground-air comms from the start, a specially equipped LW JU-52 was flown in already on April 13, for instance, this requested the air attack which sank the Polish destroyer Grom.

To summarize it all, this is not a book for the casual reader, but for those interested in the fighting in and around Narvik especially, the Norwegian campaign in general or just combined ops, it is highly recommended.

Johan F.

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Re: Hitler`s Pre-emptive War by Henrik O. Lunde

Post  Cutstone on Sat 30 Jan 2010 - 5:18

In relation to what Lunde wrote about the politics preceeding the acual invaion of Norway. Has anyone really coverd the ground and searched the archives when it comes to the british plans to invade Norway before the germans? I've found some information about this in Kew, conserning their britsh invasion plans of Norway from as early as september 1939.

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Re: Book review- Hitler`s Pre-emptive War by Henrik O. Lunde

Post  AltforNorge on Sat 30 Jan 2010 - 22:39

You will find very much of this in Bjørn Bjørnsens book "Narvik 1940" ISBN 82-05-12457-4

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Re: Book review- Hitler`s Pre-emptive War by Henrik O. Lunde

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