Crete: book recommendations?

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Chris C, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi all,

    I currently have a copy of the old book The Fall of Crete by Alan Clark. I'm conscious (from something I've read) of some bias by the author but also even from reading the text I note that some papers were not available to him at the time of writing - Wavell's, I think.

    What is the best book to read about the entire battle for Crete? (i.e. not a memoir or focused on Heraklion)

    I know there is Beevor's book but not liking his book about the battle of the bulge I am leery of him.
    I saw some older recommendations for books from Osprey(??) but I also saw some mixed/negative comments on Amazon.

    I am curious about the The Battle of Crete by Albert Palazzo. ("Australian Army Campaign Series Book 1"). Has anyone read it?
  2. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Hi Chris,

    Personally I liked (although it is now dated) 'The Struggle for Crete' by I. Mc.D. G. Stewart. But the official NZ History is also a very good read and can be found on the NZ official history site.

    Recently a NZ historian called Rachael Bell has done some interesting delving in the letters and documents used by the NZ official historians for their OH. She really exposes the way the narratives were created by discussion and negotiation in some cases. I think she has published a couple of articles in War in History (Evidence and Interpretation in New Zealand's Official History: The Battle for Crete) and War and Society. I expect her PhD thesis is available on line somewhere as well.

    I hope that helps.


    Chris C likes this.
  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Tom,

    That's interesting! What does this mean about the narratives? Has there been a certain amount of glossing over of uncomfortable truths?

  4. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    I can’t remember the exact details but I think there were debates about decisions made on the first evening at Marlene and also about exactly who led the counter attack at Galatas - some probably down to the confusion of war and some probably standard self-promotion.


  5. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    I have the Palazzo book. It’s a decent , well illustrated overview concentrating mostly on the Australian participation. I’d also recommend Lost Battle by Callum MacDonald and I would also recommend The Battle of Heraklion Crete 1941 a recent study that does a great job of covering the Greek participation. I have the Greek Army history of the battle which has some amazing maps. SWC Pack and Andrew Thomas have both written books looking at the naval battles.
  6. smdarby

    smdarby Patron Patron

    "The German Fallschirmstruppe 1936-1941" by Karl-Heinz Golla has a detailed section devoted to Crete from the German perspective. Good maps and photos also.
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  8. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    The guide book by Tim Saunders is very good. Also, I'd recommend The Struggle for Crete by I.M.G Stewart as mentioned above. I see that you didn't particularly want anything on Heraklion but the book by Yannis Prekatsounakis is excellent.

    For the SOE story there are the obvious books by Billy Moss, Xan Fielding and Paddy Leigh Fermor. On top of those I'd also add The Cretan Runner by George Psychoundakis

    Two less well known books that can be picked up for a couple of quid on Amazon are Crete 1941 by Costas Hadjipateras and Maria Fafalios. That's an excellent account as is Vasili - Lion of Crete by M. Elliot.

    Finally, I'd have to say that there are three editions of After the Battle magazine which are required reading:

    No. 47 - Operation Mercury
    No. 175 - Matilda Tanks on Crete
    No. 181 - The Kondomari Massacre

    Can you tell where I'm off on holiday at the end of next month?....
    Chris C and von Poop like this.
  9. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    I was basically just looking for one good book to get a balanced and informed overview. I can dive into more books and locations after that. Would you folks agree that Clark's book isn't that good?
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    I enjoyed Anthony Beevor's book. Al;though I have not read it George Forty's books are usually very good.
  11. Incredibledisc

    Incredibledisc Well-Known Member

    Reading Beevor’s book just now. Got it for 99p on Kindle a few weeks back. First book I’ve read on Crete so I don’t have anything to compare with. Would say it’s probably a decent enough place to start for the neophyte.
    Chris C likes this.
  12. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Anyone read this one?
    Operation Mercury : The Fall of Crete 1941 by John Sadler.
    If so , is it worth getting ?
  13. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    In Post 2 Tom referred to:
    She has several articles published, on a quick look many are behind a paywall. Except for one, which is currently available for free via JSTOR (registration req'd), a 2015 article in 'War and History' Evidence and Interpretation in New Zealand's Official History: The Battle for Crete, May 1941. Link:

    The Abstract:
    Her PhD thesis is 'Memory, history, nation, war: The official histories of New Zealand in the second world war 1939-45', submitted in 2012 and available for free (1.35Mb).

    The Abstract:

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