Being a keen Flames of War player I have the old Normandy Campaign books with the excellent graphic maps of operations that show the various operation and army movements. A lot of aspects of these operations are explained in this book and the reason why they took place and you are swept along them in this book. You do get bigger picture clarification of the strategy behind them which I found beyond excellent. Sometimes these operations when viewed in isolation seem like a mad mans folly. 1 colour Maps with the artillery location and dates are included in 'The Guns of War' as well.
You get an eye witness view of those operations from the perspective of the supporting Canadian Artillery and the ubiquitous 25 pounders in particular. Not just the logistical numbers of the amount of shells fired in a more or less diary fashion but the conditions of digging gun positions in different soil types and the weather. You get to witness the hideous nature of war and the low life expectancy of the FOO (Forward Observation Officer) from Caen, closing of the Falaise Pocket, Normandy, Belgium, Holland and Germany. The detail is incredible. The action can get intense to the point of insane.
I found this book in a second hand shop in Thames in New Zealand while on holiday and finished reading it a month or more before writing this. It’s a big read but well worth it. For me it was one of those books that I would read a few pages and have a few ‘Holy Cow!’ moments and find myself randomly thinking about what I read about hours later. Just incredible with lots of close calls and tragic moments and by the end even the prospect of peace becomes disturbing for those that have been warriors for so long.
You can probably tell by now that I highly recommend this book if you are interested in WWII in Europe. It left a big impression on me. These two books stand out above many others when it comes to accounts of warfare in WWII. I am likely to measure many books in the future by these books.
As far as what does it offer the gamer I would say lots and lots. You could easily take a few encounters and recreate them on the table top but what would be interesting is to create a game based on the FOO. Forget commanding infantry and tanks what about being the eyes of the Guns behind you and getting requests to quell an enemy counter attack while trying to read a map and get ya bearings through a hole no bigger than a letter box slot. It might make a better PC or X-Box game perhaps. I don’t mean any disrespect by presenting these ideas but this is a gaming Blog first and foremost despite my passion and curiosity about military history.Anyway if you are looking for something good to read go check it out.
Cheers from Brendon (The Kiwi)