Review From User :
Yanks and Limeys - An Excellent Narrative
Yanks and Limeys is the latest book from the excellent Military Historian Professor Niall Barr, who gives us a well written, well researched account of the relationship between Britain and the United States during the Second World War. Barr has written many excellent books over the years and has once again risen to the test and passed with flying colours.
Since the war in books, periodicals, journalistic pieces the Anglo-American Alliance has been examined in minute detail. Barr has decided to take a far longer look at the foundations, the missed opportunities as well as the actual Wartime Alliance. By taking it back to the eighteenth century we get a far deeper understanding because the actions of both country's during the course of various conflicts has been examined and how it coloured the various political thought and responses. This is probably one of the areas that with Barr's help will bring a wider context rather than the usual narrow view of Alliances. He also shows us that there was more mutual contempt than usually acknowledged, but overall in spite a War of Independence, a general respect for each other.
The examination in this book of the relationship while the theme of the book sometimes seems to be forgotten, but its core of the alliance between 1941 and 1945 is examined in the theatres of war where the alliance had to work, both in necessity and financially. Barr also reminds us that by 1941 Britain like its erstwhile Prime Minister were teetering close to financial collapse.
While Barr sees that the alliance was the most complete of any Allied country, he tends to forget about the Commonwealth, Polish; Czech soldiers were part of that common alliance. While one is able to forgive that lapse, he does investigate how the differences, tensions were allowed to colour the positives, which are often forgotten.
I was especially interested in the period between the wars when we see that neither country actually learnt anything from its alliance then. One must not forget how both countries allowed the alliance and friendship to wither on the vine, and took their collective eye off the ball politically and military thinking stunted. One example Barr gives is that of tank production and development, something Britain did not really grasp until 1936, whereas Germany had already grasped the nettle and developed their own tanks.
Something Barr does examine is the British reaction to the growing acceptance that their star and empire is on the wane and will be overshadowed by the spectacular rise of the United States, and this would be the overall price for beating Nazi Germany. Too many this was unpalatable, as the two nations passed each other, one in to debt and the breakup of its empire, while the other became the banker and the world's policeman.
Barr also expounds the theory that Britain and her Generals did not exactly help in the relationship as the war came to a close and the race to Berlin began. I have to admit like most of Polish descent to see Montgomery being blamed for the worsening relationship between the allied Generals does not surprise me. It is about time someone pointed out that he was a prickly prima donna who passed on his failures but claimed all the success, remember he blames the Poles for Arnhem and had their commander removed and demoted. He also points out how Monty made sure that he was front and centre for the German surrender rather than the Americans.
Yanks and Limeys is an excellent examination of the relationship of the two wartime allies that comes from a difference and more nuanced position. This is so well written it was a complete pleasure to read, and lessons learnt in every chapter.
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