The Channel Islands had potential. They had strategic military potential. Located in the English Channel near France this group of islands would give an occupier fantastic forward observation positions and a clear view of the narrowest area of the channel at the most western point of the Atlantic Wall. As the author points out on the back of the book, “Hitler Announced his intention to ‘convert them into an impregnable fortress.’”.
This book is one of the Osprey series focusing on fortresses. It is classic Osprey, it’s 64 pages packed with information, photos, and illustrations. The author Charles Stephenson
has done considerable research and brings as much to you as possible.
He has segmented it as follows:
- World War II
- Anatomy of an ‘impregnable fortress’
- The principles of defense
- The living site
- The site today
The writing style of the book is very easy to understand. Photos are very well done, varying from historical ‘period’ photos to current day photos. In order to ensure full understanding of the fortress illustrations give visual representations. Illustrations come in the form of plan view drawings and color plate artists representations of key points.
I came to this book from the perspective of a diorama builder. I was looking for specific applications to the modeling world. I read the book cover to cover with modeling as my primary concern. I did not come away inspired. I came away much the way the strategic importance of the islands did, very under-realized.
This is not entirely the fault of the author and illustrator. The subject matter is broad and varied. Also, there was not a great deal of ‘active’ military activity on the islands. There are some very interesting fortifications outlined. With the scale and scope Hitler imparted on these islands the buildings are huge with very little exterior detail. Form a modeling standpoint; you’re not left with much. You can glean information and some projects out of this book and if you like large dioramas you’ll be fine. The pictures and illustrations are chalk full of detail and information. The let down is, the majority is about the interiors. Shadowbox enthusiasts can put this to use.
I read the book a second time and didn’t focus on modeling. The book was much better. From a pure historical perspective this book was great. There was a plethora of information that inspires you to find out more. The amount of research was great. You come away from this book wanting to read the related material and check out the website listed.
This is a tough one; I have a two-phased recommendation. Knowing that a lot of modelers are historians this book won’t be a lost investment. Historians will get a lot of great history and some diorama modeling inspiration. Pure modelers who have little or no interest in dioramas will find nothing in this book. Diorama builders with little interest in history will not be thrilled with this book.
I have on small nit pick of the book – its title includes the years 1941-45. Well you don’t read about anything in 1941 until page 11. Not writing problem because I really enjoyed the information prior to 1941. This is just labeling/titling quibble. I would have left off the specific years.
I'd like to thank Osprey for providing this book for review