Academic journal article Military Review

The Ariadne Objective: The Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis

Academic journal article Military Review

The Ariadne Objective: The Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis

Article excerpt

THE ARIADNE OBJECTIVE: The Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis

Wes Davis, Crown Publishing Group, New York, 2013, 352 pages

Ariadne, or "most holy" in Cretan Greek, was the mythological daughter of Minos, King of Crete, and his queen, Pasiphae. She is most often linked to the mazes and labyrinths of Crete, and in particular with the Minotaur and Theseus. Reading Wes Davis' book The Ariadne Objective: the Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis, I cannot imagine a more fitting character to use as a symbolic backdrop to the action in his fast paced story. Crete represented an important strategic objective to Nazi Germany early in World War II and, on 20 May 1941, they launched the first ever large scale airborne assault against the island's Allied defenders. After sustaining crippling losses early on, the German airborne troops eventually gained control of the island's main airfield and as a result were able to bring in massive reinforcements, ultimately securing the island in ten days.

Wes Davis, an archeologist by profession, has spent many years studying the unique history of Crete. Crete is a mountainous island pocked with thousands of caves, many of which are linked to characters from Greek mythology. During one of his many trips to the island, Davis learned of an interesting story about a swashbuckling British intelligence agent named Patrick Leah Fermor and his role in fighting the Nazi occupiers of Crete. Davis does a nice job painting a picture of Fermor, describing how his mischievous curiosity caused him to have trouble adjusting to mainstream British society. During the 1930s, Fermor spent much of his early adulthood exploring Europe and Eurasia on foot. He was particularly fascinated by the culture and history of Greece and Turkey. …

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