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Panzerkrieg: The Rise and Fall of Hitler's Tank Divisions: A History of the German Tank Division in World War II [Paperback]

Mike Syron
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

12 Sep 2003

For many people the very image of Blitzkrieg is of massed columns of tanks sweeping through Europe, smashing all resistance and leaving a trail of devastation in their wake. Indeed, it was the Panzers' achievements in battle that were largely responsible for Germany's early run of success in the Second World War and, once the tide of war began to turn against the Reich, the Panzers subsequently became the backbone of its defence.

The dramatic story of Hitler's tank divisions is brought to life in this authoritative narrative. Panzerkrieg vividly describes the evolution, exploits and eventual destruction of this superlative fighting force in immensely readable fashion. Particularly accessible to the general reader who wants to know more about Germany's Second World War tank forces, the authors dispense with technical jargon and pedantic detail to give a comprehensive overview of all aspects of the subject, both human and technical. The book gives particular emphasis to the men who fought in and led the Panzer divisions: great generals like Guderian, Rommel and Manstein, tank masters like Wittmann and Bake, and inspired commanders like Balck and Bayerlein.

The whole vast canvas of the war emerges from this narrative, as it follows the titanic struggles which ranged between the bocage country of France, the desert wastes of North Africa, and the limitless steppes of Russia. The evolution of German fighting vehicles and tactics is fully charted, and the many myths, fallacies and misconceptions that have grown up around the Panzerwaffe are exploded. Extensive research, reference to the memoirs of the leading participants, and original new conclusions all contribute to a comprehensive account that critically examines the achievements, failures, and ultimate legacy of the Panzer divisions.

Features INCLUDE:

The secret pre-war birth and development of the Panzerwaffe

The lightning campaigns in Poland and France

The four bloody years of the Russian campaign, the greatest clash of arms the world has ever seen

The exploits of Rommel and his Africa Corps

Hitler's increasingly disastrous influence on the Panzerwaffe

Disputes between the Panzer officers and their High Command

Portraits of the Panzerwaffe's leaders

Detailed analysis of the great tank battles such as Kursk and the Battle of the Bulge, with clear maps

Comparative rank and organizational charts

Information on the technical evolution of Germany's armoured fighting vehicles, including the development of the mighty Tigers and Panthers

Unique sections on uniforms, crew functions and how German tanks were built

Rare coverage of how the Panzer leaders fared after the war

The legacy of the Panzers

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Robinson; New Ed edition (12 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841198005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841198002
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 763,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


[Shows] very clearly what a powerful influence [Germany's armoured divisions] had in all the theatres of war where they were engaged. (Bill Woodhouse, Tank Magazine)

[Panzerkrieg] will please general history readers and enthusiasts alike. Very few specialised histories capture the story of Germany's WWII armoured forces as richly and concisely as this. (Kirkus Reviews)

Book Description

The epic story of the German fighting machines and the men of the Panzerwaffe

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The epic story of Hitler's tank divisions 12 Aug 2002
This is THE book for anyone who wants to learn all about Nazi Germany's mighty panzers. Panzerkrieg is the only book I know of that covers the whole story from the tank's debut in WWI to Germany's final collapse in May 1945 and it manages to do so in an extremely readable way. Along with a fast paced narrative which keeps you turning the pages, the book features a good selection of pictures and uncluttered maps of the major battles.
Even though I'm a WWII fan, I hadn't realised how significant the panzers really were until I read this book. It puts their achievements into true perspective. They were at the forefront of every German battle and campaign of the war from the invasion of France to the Battle of the Bulge and in the final analysis were only defeated by airpower and the sheer weight of material the Allies brought to bear. And of course Hitler's bungling played a major part in the Panzerwaffe's destruction. The reader is left wondering what they could have achieved without his interference.
McCarthy and Syron have really brought this epic to life along with the amazing men and machines who made up the Panzerwaffe. The real star of the book is Heinz Guderian, the charismatic general acknowledged as the father of the Panzerwaffe, but generals Rommel and Manstein also play prominent parts in the story. As far as the tanks go, I'm still having nightmares about the mighty King Tiger, an armoured behemoth which could hold its own even on today's battlefields.
Whether shivering on the Steppes or sweltering in the North African desert, the German tankmen always gave it their best shot. This book is a worthy record of their victories and defeats and I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about their story, regardless of whether you're a student of military history or a general reader.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I picked this book up for a pound during Amazon UK's Christmas 2013 Kindle sale. I am ever so glad I didn't pay the suggested retail price!

While not a horrible book, "Panzerkrieg" suffers from a lack of serious editting and from its own authors' relative lack of historical research. This wouldn't be such a bad thing if it weren't for the fact that German panzers and the development of the blitzkrieg are hardly obscure topics.

"Panzerkrieg" reads as if it were a master's thesis cobbled together at the last moment by a lazy yet intelligent student who plagarized the existing literature in a half-assed manner. Furthermore, although the authors have some talent as writers - and at times this is just enough to keep one reading, even though the material itself is lackluster - this book apparently never passed through the hands of a competent editor. We are thus subjeced to repeated descriptions of how and why the Pz I and II were inadequate, for example, along with clumsy composition and a narrative thread that often runs forward years in advance before dropping back to a given chapter's topic.

In short, it's not at all a satisfying read.

But what makes things really frustrating are the obvious historical errors which could've been easily remedied with a simple wikipedia search.

Knowledgeable readers will thus be surprised to hear, for example, that attack chariots were significant, war-winning components of Ceaser's and Alexander's armies. American military historians will be tickled to learn that George S. Patton, well-educated and born into a priviledged middle-class Californian family, was a "redneck".
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb overview of the Panzerwaffe 27 Mar 2010
By T. D. Welsh TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For a comprehensive, balanced, and extremely readable introduction to the German armoured forces in WW2, this book is unbeatable. In less than 300 pages it manages to combine a brief history of the development of tanks in WW1 and the interwar period, the emergence of German Panzer forces and philosophy, all the major campaigns undertaken by the German army and Waffen-SS in WW2, pen portraits of such luminaries as Heinz Guderian, Erwin Rommel, Gerd von Rundstedt, Hans Hube, Hermann Balck, and Hyazinth von Strachwitz, descriptions of all the important armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), and analysis of the lessons learned. There are 11 campaign maps, 50 black and white photographs of men and machines, bibliography, glossary, index, and three appendices giving details of equivalent ranks, Panzer division establishments, and brief histories of the leading Panzer divisions.

The authors have a deep knowledge of their subject, and don't pull any punches in exploding myths and misconceptions. For instance, they pour scorn on William L Shirer's awed description of the fully mechanised German army that invaded Poland, with self-propelled guns travelling at 40 mph - pointing out that only a tiny fraction of the German troops got to ride in vehicles, while the great majority were left to march "with no better mobility than Napoleon's armies". (And no tank during WW2 could do much better than 20 mph, even on good roads - which were the exception).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
A really good read. Each chapter is full of information and facts. Not once do you feel like the chapters are being padded out.
Published 1 month ago by Dubes
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
Great book would recommend great info on panzer battalions of the Second World War very interesting will read again and will use as a reference the future what's not in this book... Read more
Published 6 months ago by stevenage
5.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening read
Well structured covering all the major events of the war and how the panzer played it's part. A continuing theme is how Hitler and his amateurish strategy decision-making arguably... Read more
Published 6 months ago by DAW
4.0 out of 5 stars 2 sides to every story
Enjoyed this quite a lot, very interesting to see things from the other side as we tend to forget there were 2 sides in the war
Published 8 months ago by john g mcmillan
4.0 out of 5 stars great war time read
Avery good technical read the accurate account of Germany's tank regiments over the 2nd world war is quite enthralling anyone who is interested in war history would enjoy this book
Published 8 months ago by Mikeyb
4.0 out of 5 stars Panzerkrieg
How on earth did they loose the war. A book clearly showing that Hitler was indeed a simple corporal but why did such talented Generals follow this idiot?
Published 8 months ago by Mick
4.0 out of 5 stars tanks a bunch
i'm a newbie to the world of tank history but this was gripping the whole way through. Well written, and the narrative moves along from pre war, through the invasion of france, on... Read more
Published on 17 Feb 2012 by A. Unsworth
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