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Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944 (Zenith Military Classics) [Paperback]

Max Hastings

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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'.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The march through France 31 July 2013
By dharstad - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very good book. Well written, of course, as is all Hastings' stuff. This provides a unique and informed view of the way France operated under the Nazis, especially the resistance groups and their true effectiveness as opposed to their post-war claims. It also provides a chilling description of one of the Nazi's most horrible war crimes. Well worth reading, particularly for those poor folks who idolize Das Reich.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Espionage, resistance, and the Das Reich 24 Jun 2013
By Kevin M. Sullivan - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first read Max Hastings' Das Reich, many years ago, and I enjoyed it immensely. My original copy, having gone into the hands of someone else long ago, gave me the perfect excuse to purchase the eBook edition for a second great read. Suffice it to say that Das Reich is an excellent look at war-time France and the underground movement to defeat the German occupiers. All who participated in this clandestine world of resistance put themselves at great peril, and this book captures the feel of what it was like with this famous SS division (as well as regular German Army troops) breathing down their necks. It is also the story of the despicable actions and the infamy that this, as well as other SS divisions, gained by conducting the war in accord with that peculiar mindset of the SS: No mercy. If you want to learn about the Das Reich Panzer Division, and their march through France, this is the book to read.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed 22 April 2014
By Brian Rodriguez - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Lots of detail about the French resistance, British agents and intrigue but it was not integrated very well with the advance of Das Reich. Basically the book can be summarized like this- the French communists didn't care about the civilian population and neither did the Germans. The Germans simply did what they had done in the Soviet Union. Rather than a heroic account of French resistance who claimed to have held up this division on its way to Normandy, it was Allied air power which really did it. This book simply adds to the sad story of French collaboration and futility during WWII and showed the criminal side of the Waffen SS.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read 29 May 2014
By CarrierofLadders - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Hastings has written a long list of epic narrative histories of the Second World War (and others), which are all very enjoyable. This much shorter history of a rather micro-nature is the one I've enjoyed the most. Framed around the deployment of 2nd SS Panzer going north to meet the invading Allies from their peaceful billet in the south of France, it ties in the history of the unit very nicely with the forces working against it: the French Maquis of the Resistance, and the paramilitary SAS and OSS missions to disrupt German activity in central and southern France in conjunction with Normandy landings. While admittedly certain sections do not flow as well (the paramilitary bits can take on a life slightly devoid of the 2nd SS) and it may not be for the specialist reader in any of these forces, it gives a very good impression of the political and military environment of France in the early summer of 1944, and particularly the events leading to the massacre of Orador Sur Glane, which iconically opened the still sublime "The World at War".

Hastings focuses his journalistic talent for personality and oral history to enliven the narrative. It focuses on the interplay of the characters on both sides in highlighting the human struggle of two very highly motivated combatant groups. I especially liked the discussion of the fractured nature of the resistance groups and the brutal methodology of the Division as it encountered the 'newly liberated' areas. While Hasting's conclusions might be less than academic, this history is extremely fascinating and very enjoyable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nasty Bunch 9 Jun 2014
By Ralph D. Sandy Hook, CT - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The more I read about the German soldier the more I get to understand their general psyche. All the nipping at their heels in France by the partisans was infuriating. The assassination's of soldiers and officers, the constant sabotage that had to be repaired over and over again, the ill will they felt from the locals on a daily basis, it all led to a brutal and repressive effort on the part of this division to seek revenge. The French just didn't roll over and take it and the divisional leadership and your average SS soldier after all the indoctrination and the Russian Campaign had no compunction about just eliminating the problem. Unfortunately these were people not an infestation of vermin but that was the SS way. The book showed all this and more with examples of the brutality committed by this very committed bunch of Nazi fanatics. My Dad's division (3rd Armored) took them on several times in Normandy, Northern France and the Ardennes. They were tough and brutal and had to be annihilated or they would just keep coming. The book was a good read but I would have loved to follow them along for the rest of the war but that was beyond the scope. Good Book for those interested.
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