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The British Fiasco in Norway, 1940

by John Kiszely

The British campaign in Norway in 1940 was an ignominious and abject failure. It is perhaps best known as the fiasco which directly led to the fall of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his replacement by Winston Churchill. But what were the reasons for failure? Why did the decision makers, including Churchill, make such poor decisions and exercise such bad judgment? What other factors played a part? John Kiszely draws on his own experience of working at all levels in the military to assess the campaign its context and evolution from strategic failures, intelligence blunders and German air superiority, to the performance of the troops and the serious errors of judgment by those responsible for the higher direction of the war. The result helps us to understand not only the outcome of the Norwegian campaign but also why more recent military campaigns have found success so elusive.

‘Anatomy of a Campaign is a masterful examination of the factors that resulted in the British failure in Norway in 1940. John Kiszely’s superb analysis of what Churchill described as the “ramshackle campaign” is not just gripping history, it also has enormous relevance for contemporary times, highlighting the importance of accurate intelligence; realistic assessments of friendly as well as enemy forces; clear-headed strategic thinking; forthright military advice and sound operational execution. Anatomy solidifies Kiszely’s reputation as a true soldier-scholar.’
General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), commander of the Surge in Iraq (2007-2008), U.S. Central Command (2008-2010), and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (2010-2011)

‘Unquestionably the best book on the subject. Kiszely’s clarity of thought and prose makes this perceptive work a real pleasure to read.’
Antony Beevor, author of Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble

‘After a highly successful career in the British Army, John Kiszely has embarked on a second career as an historian. In this endeavour he has fully matched his level of success as a soldier. His careful recounting of a military campaign unmatched in the Second World War by civilian and military incompetence, disastrous assumptions and flawed execution brings together political meddling, strategy and the conduct of operations. It is a must-read for civilian strategists, senior officers and all those interested in military history’.
Williamson Murray, author of Military Adaptation in War

‘General Kiszely wants to understand why things happened in the way that they did. His analysis focuses on the decision-makers, their assumptions, miscalculations and errors. The result is a fascinating and highly readable assessment.’
Brian Holden Reid, author of America’s Civil War: 1861-1863

Published by Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Military Histories) www.cambridge.org

© Crown Copyright