Book Review: May 1940: The Battle for the Netherlands


by Herman Amersfoort & Piet Kamphuis, editors

Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010. Pp. xxvii, 462. Illus., maps, diagr., tables, append., notes, index. $128.00. ISBN: 978-9-0041-18438-1

A volume in the Brill series “History of Warfare”, which has included such valuable works as Small Powers in the Age of Total War, 1900-1940 ,  Untold War: New Perspectives in First World War Studies , and The Indian Army in the Two World Wars , May 1940 revisits what is certainly the most neglected aspect of the 1940 campaign in north-western Europe, the five-day fight for the Netherlands. 

The book opens with a discussion of the general neglect of the campaign in the literature, in contrast to its importance.  There follow essays on pre-war Dutch-German relations, Dutch defense policy, planning, and readiness, and the Wehrmacht.  Strategic direction by each side is the subject of two further essays, after which five more cover specific aspects of the campaign.  The book concludes with an essay reviewing the later perceptions of the campaign, noting the consequences of the short operation and raising some interesting historical questions. 

In showing that the Dutch were better prepared for war, and did better than is commonly believed, May 1940 makes a valuable contribution to the literature, and is essential reading for anyone interested in the events of 1940.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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