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Military Errors Of World War Two (Cassell Military Classics) Paperback – 23 Jul 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (23 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304350834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304350834
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,198,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Kenneth Macksey was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment during the Second World War and has enjoyed a long and successful career as a miitary historian. Cassell Military Paperbacks include his THE MILITARY ERRORS OF WORLD WAR TWO.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rf And Tm Walters on 23 Dec. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting review of the human errors and miscalculations that the the military and their civilian masters succumbed to in World War II. It makes no distinction for nationality and the follies of the Allies are just as readily exposed as are those of Axis powers. The book is well set out with summaries conveniently placed in boxes throughout the book. The one drawback was that I found the writing style could at times be dense, which made reading at times hard work, rather than a pleasure.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hector on 14 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
The author gives a 'top-down' view of the errors in strategy made by both the Allies and the Axis powers in key campaigns of the 2nd World War. The spectrum is wide, covering political, scientific, operational research, logistical, industrial, human as well as military considerations. He describes how and why strategies were formed, where their strengths originated and where errors came from . This gives the reader a fascinating and practical insight into the elements of success in modern warfare as well as illustrating the rewards of getting the mix right -- and the penalties for not so doing.

The book is not a 'blood and thunder' account of courage on the battlefield, nor a detailed analysis of individual battles, and so may not appeal to some readers. But its strength is in putting the reader into the Commander's shoes and reviewing the important factors in winning a war, and illustrating this with major events of the 1939-45 conflict.

The author grasps from the beginning the uncertainties in war and the impossibility of getting everything right. This book is therefore not an academic view but one that is both practical and realistic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By nonglak on 5 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback
The author undoubtedly knows his stuff, allocates blame fairly to all sides and produces a very useful summary of Critical Flaws at the end of each chapter. The book is well laid out but, oh dear, what a heavy pendantic style of writing: enormous long sentences littered with commas and subordinate clauses. You feel weary after just reading some of them and I was amazed that this book was written as late as the 1980s. Even back in the 1950s I feel this style would have been considered old-fashioned.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Raymann on 29 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
Reading through all of World War Two and only getting 2-5 points of criticism for each stage doesn't warrant the tedious read this book makes.
Certainly NO classic work of military history.
Save your money.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Dated Review of Errors for the General Reader (as opposed to the Specialist) 18 July 2010
By Yoda - Published on
Format: Paperback
This provides a number of chapters, each on a variety of military campaigns and issues, and examines them from the errors made from each side. Chapters, for example, include the Battle of Britain, Barbarossa, Stalingrad, the U-Boat campaigns, Leyte Gulf and the early Japanese Campaigns in the Pacific. The chapters are quite rudimentary and hence, more geared to the general reader as opposed to the specialist. Many of the chapters basic but they are quite dated in terms of the research and information contained therein. For the chapter on Barbarossa, for example, there is no mention of the key factor contributing to German defeat (at least in research of the past 10-15 years) - that was the fact that the German logistical machine simply could not keep its armies supplied on the Eastern Front. Any decent wargame performed by the German High Command would have been able to determine this, it was not a deep and profound issue (for more details see Professor David Glantz's recent books on the early German campaigns on the Eastern Front or, more succinctly, Robert Forczyk's "Moscow 1941: Hitler's First Defeat" ).
In addition to this weakness, there are a few more in the book. The most important is the lack of any coverage of the German army's errors on the Eastern Front after Stalingrad. A minor one involves the chapter on Operation Sealion and England's "weakness" immediately following Dunkirk. In his chapter on this aspect of the war Macksey posits that England, because of its seriously depleted army, could have been relatively easily been invaded and defeated immediately after Dunkirk. This argument seriously overlooks a number of facts that would have made this a very difficult undertaking. One was that the English air force was still a force to be dealt with after Dunkirk vis-à-vis the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe, by this time, had lost almost a third of its aircraft. This would have made achieving air superiority quite difficult. In addition, there was the problem of England's naval superiority even if air superiority could have been achieved. A fourth problem is that Macksey overlooked the lack of cooperation between the German army, air force and navy (particularly the latter two). There was also the lack of German experience in mounting large scale amphibious invasions along with the accompanying lack of experience in the logistics necessary to supply such an undertaking. Last but not least, the topology of the areas of England where German air coverage could have most felt, does not lend itself to amphibious invasions (i.e., cliffs of Straights of Dover). Areas that could have facilitated amphibious invasion were quite narrow. Even Hitler, explicitly, stated that throwing troops into such narrow areas would have been tantamount to throwing them into a meat grinder.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Strategic Overview - Well Done 12 Mar. 2002
By Alan Dale Daniel - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book that covers the major errors of military operations in WW II. Mr. Macksey does a good job of seeing the strategic errors of all sides in the war. He goes far beyond the tactical evaluations and points out the principal thinking errors that resulted in key outcomes in the various campaigns. The author is not shy about saying someone was a dunderhead. On the other hand he is objective about why that person was making tremendous errors. "Bomber" Harris, for example, is castigated for his handling of air operations and his misguided belief in how the bomber forces were to be used. He (Harris) did not value scientific evidence as to how to achieve the best results at the least cost. Harris was apparently motivated by the desire to expand the air force and make it the decisive factor in the war.
Macksey does not point out often enough how correct action on one side lead to errors on the other. He does discuss this factor at length, but he often omits it in the analysis of key events. The battle of Midway for example, which he covers very well, omits any discussion of the risk taken by Nimitz in committing his entire carrier force to one battle in one area against a clearly superior enemy force. It should also be remembered that Nimitz did this after the US Navy and its allies had been taking a terrible beating for six months. The Japanese had blasted the US Navy at Pearl Harbor, destroyed the allied fleet at the Java Sea, hammered Port Darwin and embarrassed the US Navy in the Philippine landings and other places. After this unending spate of disasters Nimitz still remained confident he could beat the Japanese at Midway. And he put all his resources into one attack. Macksey correctly points out that if the US has lost big at Midway (which it well could have) the result would be Japanese hegemony over the Pacific for at least another year with all the attendant problems that would bring.
So the outcome at Midway went far beyond the Japanese doing things wrong, it also meant the US Navy had to do a lot of things right even after the series of defeats and setback of all kinds that it suffered.
One other matter should be noted. Mr. Macksey's writing style is hard to follow. His book is not an easy read. His sentence structure is very complex and his serpentine prose makes his conclusions hard to follow.
Still, it is an excellent book with a good deal of stretegic thought analyzed and compellingly set forth.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Good place to start 1 May 2000
By Simon Andrews - Published on
Format: Paperback
Whilst other reviews might criticise this book for not going into enough detail, it does work out as either a good foundation for further study, or simply as an interesting insight. It covers most aspects of the war, providing unbiased and clear points, with summaries to help simplify the arguments. It demonstrates the sudden changes and shocks that this new, technological world war presented each of the powers, particularly the stubborn Japanese Imperial code, and how the ordinary soldier was affected, often fatally. The book presents a range of careful individual personal profiles, mirroring the events, that so-often suffered from similar flaws, and in turns leads to an intriguing summary of the simple problems that were magnified into major flaws in planning and procedure. This is a good textbook, or a good read.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A good book which does not detail events enough. 5 Dec. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Military Errors of World War Two, is a fine addition to anyones book collection, detailing many of the main battles and events which took place during WW2.
The accounts of the Russian conflict are excellent, pointing out many of the flaws which are evident today, but were missed by the Germans over confidence.
My main gripe is the lack of depth for each area covered. The book should have contained maybe 3 key battles during the war and explained the errors with these in some depth.
Aside from this, a recommended book.
Imperfect in many ways 30 Dec. 2012
By Bryan Tagas - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As other reviewers have noted, Macksey provides a starting point for an analysis of some of the errors made in WWII, but by no means is this book comprehensive, either in terms of the important military mistakes or with regard to the full scope of the global conflagration. The book is both British-centric (with a lot of unnecessary discussion of the sideshow in North Africa) and Euro-centric (with very little time spent on the war in the Pacific). The bibliography provides a clue as to why the author spends so much time (perhaps a quarter of the book) on the air campaign over the Continent, especially the British night-bombing efforts. He read three books on the subject, and apparently did very little research concerning the Japanese or American air efforts in that other major theatre of the war. While HItler's political/military decision to invade Russia is given some analysis, there is scant discussion of Hitler's equally crazy decision to declare war on the United States simply because he had earlier promised Japan he would do so if they did. He certainly went back on other promises, and it is unclear that a German war with America was the inevitable outcome of Pearl Harbor. Macksey, however, does have some good insights, so if you're interested in the subject you can start here.
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