I ordered this book as soon as it was published and read during my annual vacation. Prof Buckley examines performance of British Army between 1944-45 and overall performance of British Army during European Theater of Operations. He argues that a series of unjust myths grew about British ground forces during the war even during their victorious 1944-45 period. From memoirs of of defeated German officers who tried to find scapegoats for their failures to writings of 1980 historians like Max Hastings , Col. Carlo D'Este and Stephen Ambrose etc main themes were identical. British Army was slow , plodding , unable to exploit oppurtunities , methodical and easy to predict but heavens most cardinal sin of all reluctant to engage close combat , usually dependent of firepower and numerical superiority. But still they were winners. Why ? He asks. Surely they must have done something right since British army was at Baltic at the end of war. PART I First of all he tries to deconstruct some myths. (he is mostly successful) British Army was fighting in severe constraints he argues. Man power was short and considering severe casaulties during several periods of war it was getting a critical stage in 1944. British simply could not afford another Somme type casaulty/attrition rate. Population and national mood simply couldn't afford that. Morale was a very important factor. Montgomery knew mood of men and after almost five years of conflict he was aware of the fact that most of them wanted to survive the war alive and intact. He tried to minimize casaulties as much as possible , cut out needless wastage of manpower and material machinery firepower took priorty over using manpower. This is not ineffiency and there is nothing wrong in using material abundancy and firepower advantage to save men's lives he argues. More over Montgomery was under severe instructions from War Office in London to preserve manpower and avoiding heavy casaulties since replacement rate was getting lower and lower in 1944. War Office gave orders to Montgomery to keep British Army intact after the war for occupational duties in Germany and a peaceful transition of army and British society to peacetime after the war not to mention keeping possible reserves for imperial peacekeeping duties plus additional potential campaigns in Burma and Malaya. Churchill and British goverment had to think after the war to have an intact army for a possible showdown with Soviets but also to have a say in peacetable , to be able to show that UK did its bit on battlegrounds. Montgomery had to walk on this balance while preparing his operations he argues. Plus having so many specialist units like Commandos , Special Service troops like LRDG or SAS plus Royal Navy's and RAF's choice of best manpower available also did not help to improve the quality of regular British infantry. Plus he says British Army was still struggling in battlefield doctrines and tactical approaches. Since regimental system had a huge effect on army every unit had its own culture in doing things and they couldn't develop a uniform way of tactics or tactical doctrine so sticking basic First World War tactics like following heavy artillery barrage as much as possible made sense for British he says. That was the most known stuff. Montgomery couldn't trust his subordinates , couldn't trust lower ranks to get the initiative always in battlefield and he believed a central command to lead the battle above anything , because he knew what his men were : A Citizen Army. Civilians in Uniform. Easy to be demoralized even a slightest setback. He needed to keep up their morale and keep their trust and faith to their officers , high command and himself. When ever British or Americans on that matter tried to take Germans on equel terms and strength with independent command he points out Germans usually got better because their officers with better organized and trained in small scale engagements were initiative takers , real oppurtunists who exploited even the slightest mistake of enemy. British and Commonwealth troops and officers were still experimenting their tactics and new operational methods under these restrictions. Because of that Montgomery tried to fight on a ground of his own choosing , preferring to have a massive firepower advantage before operations , tried to gain massive RAF air support and air support coordination. He tried to turn battlefield conditions in his favor as much as possible , gain maximum advantegous conditions before commiting any offensive operations. That is not cheating , it just about reducing casaulties and getting success in most reliable and confident way possible by avoiding large scale risks. Risk taking might seem good , ambitious , daring , adventerous , reckless and be considered positive by avarage reader but due to restrictions mentioned it couldn't be Montgomery's way of war. You couldn't change military culture of an army overnight or even after five years of conflict. For example 7th Armored Division famous Desert Rats learned from hard way that Northwest Europe was quite different from North Africa , their war experience and veteran status hold little value in hedgegrows of Normandy. British tank crews were used to see and engage enemy from long range when they found themselves in hedgegrows in Normandy or marshes of Netherlands they struggled , failed in their tasks a few times (Montgomery was quite displeased with performance 7th Armored and relieved its commander in Normandy ) but ultimately prevailed. But how ?