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Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944 (Pan Military Classics) Paperback – 21 Aug 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Reprints edition (21 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330509985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330509985
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir Max Hastings is the author of twenty-five books, many of them about war. He was educated at Charterhouse and University College, Oxford, which he quit after a year to become a journalist. Thereafter he reported for newspapers and BBC TV from sixty-four countries and eleven conflicts, notably the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Vietnam and the 1982 Battle for the Falklands. Between 1986 and 2002 he was editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph, then editor of the Evening Standard. He has won many prizes both for journalism and for his books, most recently the 2012 Chicago Pritzker Library's $100,000 literary award for his contribution to military history, and the RUSI's Westminster Medal for his international best-seller 'All Hell Let Loose'.

Product Description

About the Author

Max Hastings, author of twenty books, was editor of the Daily Telegraph for almost a decade, and then for six years edited the Evening Standard in London. In his youth he was foreign correspondent for newspapers and BBC television. He has won many awards for his journalism, particularly his work in the South Atlantic in 1982. He was knighted in 2002.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 30 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
Das Reich (2nd SS Panzer)

The focus of the book is on delays to the move to Normandy of Das Reich. But Hastings covers a lot of ground. A number of issues caught my eye. The best I can do here is to list some of these in the hope that they give something of the character of the book.

Hastings gives good insight into the mentality of the SS. This is central to an understanding of what took place.

The SOE (Special Operations) had the job of providing resources for and motivation of the Resistance. Sceptics of the work of the SOE included Monty, MI6, and SHAEF. But SOE had powerful friends including the PM. In 1940-41 various 'private armies' were tolerated by service hierarchies as playthings of the Prime Minister and some irregularly minded generals. These criticisms carried some weight: the contribution of Special Forces of all kinds was always marginal. SHAEF had little time or enthusiasm for any force that threatened to divert attention or resources.

For SHAEF any dividend from the work of the Resistance was a seen as windfall but SHAEF did not plan on it. The organisation of the Resistance was always confused. There was no overall plan. Also SS retaliation on local populations for any attacks on their forces was so severe that this limited scope. When the Resistance did some damage (for example to railways) there was not enough emphasis on repetition - quick repairs were often possible.

The German decision to counterattack the Resistance in the south rather than immediately move north to support the forces in Normandy was profoundly foolish. No other major battlefield formation was permitted to waste as much time upon the Resistance as the 2nd SS Panzer. Das Reich (SS 2nd Panzer) was certainly slowed in its eventual journey north.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By normngrey on 4 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
This was originally published in 1981 via the Military Book Society. Judging by some of the typos in this version I suspect it is a scanned reprint with some obvious errors allowed to remain after scanning.

The book covers the activities of Allied forces and French resistance which delayed the ability of the division to approach and engaged the allied forces in Normandy. Whilst this information is good, it does not supply anything worthwhile from the German perspective be it personal or documentary which I consider to be an opportunity lost.

A good read but if you're looking for teh German perspective this book is a miss. For Allied and resistance activity against the movement of the division it is very good.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Dr. David Griffiths on 31 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a superb book by one of Britain's foremost military historians. The author expressly states that he assumes the reader has a certain level of knowledge of Vichy, the Nazi empire and the SS and this enables him to concentrate on the events he describes rather than rehashing material available elsewhere. The title does scant justice to the scope of the book. While Das Reich itself is, of course, central to the narrative, the author deals in depth with the maquis and the other factions of the French Resistance, their politics, their bravery and their stupidity. His descriptions are not always flattering although he is always scrupulously objective. The SOE, the SAS and the OSS are similarly treated. The two seminal events, the massacres at Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane, are described and discussed at some length. The former may have had some slight justification; the latter - much the better known outside France - had none whatever. My blood ran cold when the the author quoted without comment a father's description of finding the partially charred body of one of his children in the smoking, burnt out church, and searching unsuccessfully for his other son among bullet-riddled prams and the bodies of at least twenty small children who had unsuccessfully sought safety behind the altar.

The paperback edition which I read suffers from sloppy proof-reading and irritating typographical errors: the surname of Major Kampfe (whose abduction was the catalyst for the events at Oradour) is rendered as "Kampie" in a couple of places, "farmers" is given as "fanners" and so on. It is this alone which stops me giving the book five stars.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Bloss on 10 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I won't go into the quality or accuracy of the research as it seems clear here that almost every participant has an agenda to follow and inevitably that makes untangling the actual events and motivations quite a difficult task. I was a little disappointed with this book overall though because I felt it firstly failed to put Das Reich into perspective - what had it been involved with pre-June 1944 - and moreover why was it so important to delay its march to Normandy. It seems overall that theoretically the Das Reich could have been in Normandy in 4-5 days(ish) but it took so much longer but the book only covers what seem to be fairly short lived and minor engagements by the French Resistance and Allied agents, most of which seemed to last a few hours and can't explain the overall delay. The book does cover SS atrocities and Resistance politics and activities but overall I felt the narrative wasn't strong.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P J Renardson on 10 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The narrative of the Das Reich SS Panzer Division's journey from the south to the Normandy battlefields at once evokes admiration and revulsion. The bulk of the account focuses on the activities of various branches of the Resistance and Allied covert operations describing how they harrassed and delayed the movement of Das Reich. Hastings writes in a relatively non judgemental way, not allowing sentiment to get in the way of historical fact. The account of the ransacking of Oradour Sur Glane allows the reader to make their own judgements.
Overall, this account of one episode in World War II leaves you wanting to know more about the German Panzer Division, I felt. The exploits of the Resistance are amply covered. I read Hastings' 'All Hell Let Loose' before I read Das Reich, finding that a much more gripping and pacey.
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