DESMOND MORTON DESMOND MORTON
TRIUMPH IN THE WEST: Continuing the War Diaries of Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke, K.G., 0.M.. by Sir Arthur Bryant (Collins, 'F HIS book and its predecesA sor, "The Turn of the Tide", are two parts of a whole. They cannot be treated separately. It would be easier to comment on them with some knowledge of the conditions whereutider Lord Alanbrooke handed over his personal diaries to Sir Arthur Bryant for publication. These can hardly have included equal co-operation.
Sir Arthur is the undisputed author, responsible for all save textual extracts from the diaries and memoranda. But to what extent could the writer of the diaries control the author's selection, comments, and personal contributions?
It is incredible that Alan Brooke, who, despite his outstanding personality and strength
of character, is modest and unassuming, should alr Arthur freely to represent him, in the first book. but not the second. as the man who won the war alone-or thought he did-an idea quite foreign to the diaries as well as
to their writer.
ANOTHER impression given by the 'first book, despite what read like belated attempts at correction, is that Brooke thoroughly disliked Churchill, to putit mildly. This is dispelled in the second book, not only by the author's explanatory chapters. but by extracts from the very diaries 'themselves. At one time Brooke thought the hoot was on the other leg. Other criticisms of "The Turn of the Tide"-such as: "Too much Bryant and too little Brooke "and of the length of the FieldMarshal's " afterthoughts" where a brief footnote would have sufficed are less valid for this second volume. But what a pity the first had not the balance of the second and what a greater pity the two books were not condensed into one.
Apart from those few with personal recollections of the day-today events described, whom every extract from the diary will interest, the reading public may find too much repetition of fact and ideas. The pity is the greater in that the story is unique and can not be rewritten until and unless the full diaries are made available after the deaths of all concerned.
yET even as presented, the account is of very great importance and value, not so much to professional historians, since it discloses no new facts -that is, what most professional historians would regard as facts. Historians may positively dislike both books for demonstrating the impossibility of writing history with inadequate knowledge of how the dead facts they prefer were forged by living nien. Such historians and, more importantly. the ordinary citizen should be made to understand that it is only through agony of spirit as well as bodily pain that abiding victories are won. in war and in peace. While wishing them no unnecessary suffering, it would be comforting to feel assured that those upon whom falls the burden of making and maintaining peace undergo such spiritual travail as do those who. by war, create that opportunity. " Triumph in the West" takes us from the landing in Italy in September, 1943, through the landing in Normandy in June, 1944, to the surrender of Germany and the change of political government in 1945, up to the surrender of Japan and the end of the diaries with the retirement of Lord Alanbrooke on June 26. 1946.
SPACE forbids quotation and detailed comment, but the tale of decision reachedthrough frequent and often furious argument is of absorbing interest : argument
not only between the ads d of Staff-note the plural-and the Prime Minister, but also between the British Chiefs of Staff and their American counterpart.
The recorded criticism is sometimes fierce, but never contemptible or second rate, even when scribbledat the end of an exhausting 17-bout' working day. The careful reader will perceive that the British Chiefs were never forced to surrender principle in the high strategic policy they had argued out between themselves. "the shining truth abides that in the end it was that policy. accepted by all and faithfully carried out by all, which won the war. When fine flint and selected steel 1 ale struck together, only the ignorant or inexperienced will fail to anticipate sparks. It lifts the heart to recognise that in the war of 1939 politician and soldier were each supreme in his own sphere and that no such horrid intrigues. as unfortunately occurred during the first world war, took place. Nor did the fighting men trespass in the political field. 'The British people have not realised how fortunate they were in all their