Cover image for Brute force : allied strategy and tactics in the Second World War
Brute force : allied strategy and tactics in the Second World War
Ellis, John, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 1990.
Physical Description:
xxii, 643 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D743 .E43 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
D743 .E43 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Reviews 4

Booklist Review

In his revisionist view of World War II, Ellis deploys his extensive knowledge and scholarly gifts to argue that the Allies won by weight of numbers rather than by skill. Commanding officers, says Ellis, were so lacking in strategic acumen that they were not even able to use that numerical superiority effectively. Contentious speculation is rife here, but this volume will be a worthwhile addition to the literature on the war. Recommended for larger collections. Notes, bibliography; to be indexed. ~--Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ellis's argument, backed with statistics, is that the Allied victory in WW II was the inevitable consequence of enormous advantages in manpower and materiel, but that the deployment of this overwhelming force was so maladroit that the war dragged on longer than necessary. In his lucid summaries of the major campaigns (Blitzkreig, Battle of Britain, Eastern Front, Battle of the Atlantic, Bomber Offensive, Mediterranean, Northwest Europe, Pacific) the author is highly critical of the conduct of Allied operations, charging British General Bernard Montgomery, for instance, for overcautious tactics, and RAF Marshall Arthur Harris with ``insane insistence'' on area bombing. Ellis ( Cassino: The Hollow Victory ) contends that the U.S. Navy ignored the speediest and most cost-effective way to defeat Japan, choosing to squander resources in the Central Pacific instead of strangling the country economically by severing its access to the raw-material deposits in the East Indies. The book's pragmatic interpretation is convincing, and fundamentally changes the received wisdom about WW II. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ellis ( Cassino: The Hollow Victory, LJ 6/1/84) has matured from military reporter to serious combat analyst. In this sober but readable study he concludes that the wartime triumphs of the Allies were due less to their battlefield skills than to their enormous industrial capacity. In all World War II combat theaters, he argues, Allied tactics on the ground, sea, and air were crude and wasteful, dependent upon abundant firepower rather than training and finesse. This viewpoint is not new, but Ellis buttresses it with formidable statistical proofs that will be grist for countless future debates. He freely overstates his case, possibly for emphasis, and greatly overpraises the Germans, but his basic premise is well and forcefully presented. Highly recommended to public as well as academic collections.-- Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Ellis's thesis--that the Axis powers prepared for a short war that required them to win decisively before latent Allied power turned the war around--is fairly standard. Both Germany and Japan won spectacular opening victories but their military establishments were too small to absorb more than token losses and neither could handle Allied military and economic strength after the US and the Soviet Union entered the war. Ellis states that the Allies relied on their massive superiority in men and materiel to fight a war of attrition, but they failed to use their advantages well and often made serious strategic and tactical errors. Ellis's arguments are not especially original. The strength of his book is the considerable amount of military and economic data provided that supports his case effectively. The narrative is somewhat uneven. The Mediterranean front receives more pages than either of the far more important Russian and Pacific theaters. The Allies did many things well in the war, including fighting some campaigns brilliantly, but Ellis tends to downplay these. Nonetheless, the book is a good attempt at comparing Allied and Axis military power, and his interpretations and arguments are worth serious consideration. Upper-division undergraduates and above. -P. L. De Rosa, Boston School of Modern Languages