The German invasion of Crete in 1941 and the ensuing struggle between German and British forces was one of the most dramatic and exciting battles of the Second World War. Now, using previously top-secret sources, historian Callum MacDonald has written a gripping narrative of the bloody battle that was one of World War II's darkest moments. When the invasion began, with hundreds of Nazis descending from the clouds upon entrenched British troops, it seemed Germany had the upper hand. It was the first time in history that paratroopers fell from the sky, ushering in a terrifying new form of warfare. MacDonald recreates the horror experienced by the British at the prospect of this innovation, and describes as well the process by which the German developed it, and the sense of promise their side held for it. Yet it was precisely in combatting this new tactic that the British achieved a brilliant intelligence coup. Intercepting plans for the Nazi attack, they prepared a trap that made Crete a vast graveyard for the elite German airborne force. Churchill's greatest hope was to dash the legend that the Germans were invincible. At this point in the baffle, that dream seemed attainable. The Germans suffered greater losses in the baffle for Crete than in the entire Balkan campaign. An expert storyteller, MacDonald vividly weaves together history and the human drama of individuals on each side of the battle, from the relentless and stubborn German commander Kurt Student, to the British World War I hero Brigadier General Freyberg. He shows how misjudgments on both sides led simultaneously to British disaster and to a hollow victory for the Nazis. Despite their devastating losses, the Nazis nevertheless defeated the British forces on the island. Although their intelligence was strong, the British were militarily unprepared. Callum MacDonald tells this compelling story as a lesson in the perils of unpreparedness and the unpredictable outcomes of even the best strategies.