Battlefield - Pearl Harbor

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The sneak attack that brought the US into WWII. _ JW

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The Definitive World War II Battle History

jacksflicks11 April 2001

"Battlefield" is a masterful rendering of military history. It somewhat arbitrarily presents World War II as a series of battles. This is slightly misleading, since the "Battle for the Rhine" as two tapes are titled, was actually a campaign made up of battles such as Arnheim, Bastogne and the Bulge, which lasted from the D-Day landings to the fall of Berlin. Of course, the totality of a war cannot be explained this way, but "Battlefield's" perspective is narrowly focused on the operational aspect of the war.

Each battle is broken into two tapes, "Prelude" and "The Battle"; each of these is broken into sections comparing leadership (politicians, generals), men (soldiers, sailors, airmen), arms and strategic situations, addressing their respective strengths and weaknesses. The campaigns are illustrated with war footage and punctuated with dynamic war maps. This analytic approach may seem dry to someone looking for a war-as-hell or human interest perspective, but as another reviewer has pointed out, these latter approaches have already been used in other series.

Tim Piggot-Smith is a great narrator, giving an urgent, expressive, yet even and restrained voice to the events.

One quibble: I think "Battlefield" omits some important aspects of particular battles. For example, it doesn't go into enough detail about the successful diversion of Halsey's task force in the Battle of Leyte Gulf to explain how the element of luck was crucial to the American victory. This is covered in other series, such as the History Channel's one-tape Leyte Gulf history. Perhaps the European theater is more vivid to the British than the Pacific theater, which was mainly an aircraft carrier and marine operation between the Japanese and Americans. Of course, when "Battlefield" covers aspects of the war with Japan in which Britain played a major part, such as South Asia, the coverage seems more meticulous. Being American, I may be biased, but this is my impression.

This quibble notwithstanding, "Battlefield" is by far the best video series about World War II, from an operational viewpoint. brought the US into WWII. - JW
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