In This Review

British Intelligence In The Second World War: Its Influence On Strategy And Operations. Volume III, Part II
British Intelligence In The Second World War: Its Influence On Strategy And Operations. Volume III, Part II
By F. H. Hinsley, E. E. Thomas, C. A. G. Simkins and C. F. G. R
Cambridge University Press, 1988, 1038 pp

The final volume of this magisterial series sticks to its rule against mentioning personalities and, even more rigidly than before, focuses on the written record of what intelligence learned and judged, with less on the more subjective and difficult matter suggested by the subtitle. Where the authors let themselves go, as in the opening sections on planning and deception before D-Day, the result is solid, and on the V-weapons too, the account is illuminating and precise. On other key points, such as the crucial defeat of the German attack at Mortain, the surprises at Arnhem and the Bulge, and the last phase of the Battle of the Atlantic, the account seems excessively dry and non-interpretive alongside the separate accounts of Ronald Lewin, Ralph Bennett and Patrick Beesly. Still, no serious historian of the war can fail to use this volume fully, and the appendix on the comparative Polish, French and British contributions to the breaking of the Enigma machine code is much fuller and more credit-giving than the earlier effort in the first volume of the series.