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The Myth of the Eastern Front: The Nazi-Soviet War in American Popular Culture Paperback – 5 Nov 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (5 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521712319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521712316
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.9 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 125,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Ronald Smelser and Edward Davies vividly show how the pernicious idea of an honorable German war on the Eastern Front permeated the American consciousness with devastating consequences not only for the broad understanding of German atrocities in the East, but ultimately for the Cold War itself. From its lucid discussion of the former Hitler generals who whitewashed their military records after World War II to its disturbing look at the self-proclaimed gurus of army minutia who still pose as authorities on the Wehrmacht, The Myth of the Eastern Front is a masterful and incisive combination of military and cultural history."
-Norman J.W. Goda, Ohio University

"The swiftness with which Cold War America embraced vanquished Nazi officers, along with their sanitization of Wehrmacht criminality on the Eastern Front, is a chilling reminder of how historical memory often follows the flag. Ronald Smelser and Edward Davies have performed a signal service in bringing to light the internet's perpetuation of self-serving myths about World War Two. Whether Waffen-SS reenactors and Nazibilia collectors represent harmless playacting or something more sinister only time will tell. But anything that traffics in half-truths, and worse, especially concerning matters of grave moral concern, can't be taken lightly."
-Lawrence N. Powell, Tulane University

"A superb and insightful study of the premeditated manipulation of history and memory in the fabrication of the myth of a "clean Wehrmacht." Expertly exposes the intersection and influence of popular imagination, politics, and popular culture in the rewriting of the German army's experience in World War Two."
Edward B. Westermann, author of Hitler's Police Battalions: Enforcing Racial War in the East

"Recommended." -Choice

"Smelser and Davies need to be commended for their fascinating and detailed study." -Journal of American History, Gerd Horten

Book Description

From the 1950s onward, Cold War–era Americans were receptive to a view of war on the Eastern Front in World War II similar to that held by many Germans and military personnel. A broad subculture of German military enthusiasts continues to romanticize the German army to this day.

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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By T. Kunikov on 28 Feb 2008
Format: Hardcover
"The Myth of the Eastern Front" is an interesting look at the evolution of the Western view when it came to the German Wehrmacht throughout WWII.

To begin with the book is broken down into eight chapters, discounting the introduction and conclusion. The first chapter aims to reveal how the Soviet Union was viewed throughout the war in the American Media. Many times the Russians, from the soldiers to the women working in industries and within the Red Army, were compared to their US counterparts with the idea that they were very alike and similar as a people and in their individual qualities. From Readers Digest to a variety of other publications like Time and Life readers would be able to catch a glimpse of the Soviet Union through journalists, reporters, and a variety of others. Yet, just as soon as some publications went from vilifying the Soviet Union before they were attacked by Hitler, they would go back to the same standard quite soon after the war was over. Helping to tarnish relations that so many worked had to sustain and cement in the hopes of a peaceful future.

The Second chapter tackles the Nuremberg trials and the numerous ways in which the German General Staff and Army Generals were shown to have been implicit in genocidal acts on the Eastern Front. Trials began to take place soon after the war in various cities throughout the Soviet Union where perpetrators were put on trial for their crimes, from collaborators to SS and regular army officers and soldiers. The Wehrmacht's guilt was made quite clear by a number of their own generals, and others, including Einsatzgruppen commanders who testified to the regular cooperation of the army with their troops.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on 17 Mar 2010
Format: Paperback
In this brilliant book, Ronald Smelser and Edward J. Davies II, both professors at the University of Utah, examine the role of the German army in World War Two. Many books on the eastern front glorify the German army and cover up its active role in the genocidal assault on the Soviet Union. Many accept the Nazi lie that the German army was fighting a war of defence against the Soviet Union.

The Nuremburg and other postwar trials confirmed the German army's links with the Holocaust. Franz Halder, chief of the army general staff 1938-42, noted Hitler's 1941 order, "This is a war of extermination." The Nazi regime conducted racial genocide against Jews and Slavs. The attack on the Soviet Union was a war of aggression, a war of annihilation and enslavement, which killed eight million Red Army soldiers and 22 million Soviet civilians. 3.5 million Soviet POWs died in German custody.

Germany's generals all backed the attack. They laid the operational foundations for genocide. Halder's staff drafted the criminal Commissar and Barbarossa orders, which ordered killing all captured Communist Party members, partisans and Jews, and denied that German soldiers had to abide by the laws of war.

But after 1945, the US state quickly turned from seeing the Nazi generals as war criminals to treating them as allies against the Soviet Union. The USA backed German rearmament in the 1950s, and tried to whitewash the German army's criminal acts during the war.

Too many books on the eastern front omit the strategic level entirely, and fail to ask why the war happened. They look only at the operational and tactical levels, asking only what happened and how. But to focus on the Wehrmacht's courage and sacrifices is to ignore its crimes.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. W. Sharman on 29 Jun 2014
Format: Paperback
An interesting and enlightening Read the post war usage of the German war experence but American officers is well covered and the spin put on the german armed forces conduct by them in they attempt to position the reformed German post war forces within Nato is well covered. The refeerences to the images used in fiction and other mediums was a reminder of some books which I had read a long time ago and makes one want to revisit them now after a broader education in History, worth reading.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Stewart on 30 Sep 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this a rather odd read to be honest -the author attempts to create a situation which in all fairness does not exist.
That the Germans are looked upon as unfortunate losers in WW2 as today an industry exists in trying to unfairly influence and make heroes of the German Army and the Waffen SS.
An author I know Mark Yerger is named as a "guru" someone who guides peoples thinking.
Reenacting is viewed as an extension of this process - I can't speak for this but writing history is a different matter, thought provoking but the author is rather unconvincing IMO..
A good read but one which is written from a conclusion backwards....... odd.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 26 reviews
83 of 101 people found the following review helpful
Good Project, Mediocre Execution 25 Dec 2007
By M. Kirschenbaum - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book argues that a sanitized and romanticized narrative of the German conduct of the war on the eastern front has been popularized in the West, as a result of a variety of factors including Cold War politics, the writings of key German commanders, and the diffusion of this narrative through a broader subculture which includes military historians and hobbyists, internet enthusiasts, wargamers, and reenactors. The book expends a lot of space on the visual imagery associated with these groups, for example book jackets and wargame box art which glorifies/romanticizes the German cause. This is generally a kind of argument I am sympathetic toward, since a book or game cover is an expression of marketing and self-identity.

At the same time, as sympathetic as I am to the basis thesis and premise of the book, I find the execution clumsy and less compelling than it might be. What the authors don't mention, for example, is that the bias toward Nazi/SS imagery is already well known in the wargaming community, is often critiqued, and is sometimes aggressively countered, for example Adam Starkweather's cover choices for his various east front games (available through Multiman Publishing, the same company which markets various other games that come under fire in the book). Nor do the authors delve into game design and mechanics to examine whether or not actual systems are biased toward a German viewpoint. There's no doubt that there are lots of people who think Tiger tanks and Panzerfausts are cool; then again, most of us also found Darth Vader much cooler than Luke Skywalker.

Often the kind of thesis the authors put forward is misunderstood or (worse) deliberately misrepresented as some kind of outlandish conspiracy theory, rather than an examination of the way in which certain groups and communities are predisposed to favor certain kinds of imagery as a result of an array of interacting cultural, social, and political variables, and the way this imagery then feeds on itself and becomes self-perpetuating and transparent. The authors are drawing on a foundation of scholarship that studies popular media culture, not so different from the way in which (to give just one example) anxieties about the Bomb in the fifties found their way into many corners of pop culture, including a piece of candy called the Atomic Fireball--thereby masking our deepest collective nightmare by making the atom safe for consumption.

Thus far here on Amazon, reviews of the book have polarized, with ratings of either 1 or 5. That's exactly wrong in my view, and one suspects these are not necessarily disinterested parties. I think the book is finally a middling and mediocre effort. The authors' project is legitimate, but the execution is awkward, careless, and, frankly, not terribly well written. Which is too bad, because the subject deserves more.
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Missed opportunity 30 Aug 2009
By Nick Dowling - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There's lots of scope to write a great book how the west came to view the Eastern Front through German perspectives and overlook the German Army's war crimes, but this isn't it. A key flaw is that the authors never really set out how they think that the war should be seen and how the common Western accounts differ from this. Instead, they use a mish-mash of bits of information which don't seem to have been very rigorously selected or given a consistent weight to argue their case. This leads to the book's central argument being under-developed and, unfortunately given the importance of the topic, unconvincing. Moreover, the book feels dated - despite being published in 2007, the section on the internet talks about how many websites looked in 1999(!) and doesn't discuss whether they've since changed and there's not much on the recent serious scholarship and popular works which have been written on the Eastern Front.

Another flaw is that the book is fairly one-sided and focused on the more extreme fringe of authors. When discussing how German perspectives came to dominate how the Eastern Front is viewed in the west the authors don't discuss the quality and availability of Soviet histories and sources - both were highly problematic and acted as a barrier to western historians being able to tell the Soviet side of the story until the end of the Cold War. The focus on fringe publications about the war is also problematic - these appear to be aimed at a fairly selective audience and aren't easily available, so their influence is likely to be minor compared to the popular histories of the war, which go largely unexamined.

In short, this book doesn't deliver what it promised, and was highly disappointing.
34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Unbalanced Reading 30 Jan 2011
By cpt matt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Well, author Edward Davies and I have some things in common- we both read and collected war books & novels in our youth, played Avalon Hill board games, we're both from PA. The authors argue that America has been brainwashed by the Germans who created a myth that there was a `clean war' fought against the Russians.

I'm ok with most of the early chapters contents which outline how and why the US/British began to separate `good soldiers' from the SS and Nazis. It was pragmatic and needed, since the Soviets became our enemies in the Cold War. It is a fundamental aspect of war that you have to know your enemy. Of course we would study what the Germans did and made them effective. It is very difficult to separate politics from those who have to wage the war, and I agree that it is important that we remember this as we study the weapons, tactics, and experiences of Germany in WW2. Serious historians know what the Nazis did and the horrors they unleashed on the world, not just the Russians. Or should we call them Soviets - 30 million Russian people died in WW2, a significant portion of them by the Soviet secret police or a result of Stalin's policies and purges.

I do think it's good to remember that and understand that a lot of the German leaders were Nazis, followed Hitler, knew what was going on, and profited from the Nazi regime. Of interest, it was a running joke with my fellow tankers stationed in Germany in the 80's - every German ex-soldier we met fought on the eastern front - never against the Americans of course. I also admit I get insulted when some Germans said "we did not know what was going on with regard to the concentration camps". I have far more respect for those who admit they knew, but also admitted the hopelessness of fighting the regime.

It's interesting how many of the exact same books the authors and I have read - Sven Hassel's Wheel's of Terror, The German Generals Talk, Panzer Commander to name a few. Funny how he does not balance that out with other works such as Cross of Iron, Enemy at the Gates, Last Battle for Berlin which do show the German soldiers as brutal, savage...fighting a brutal and savage enemy. Anyone cutting their teeth in history in the 70's would have watched the World at War Series - tell me that whitewashed what the Germans did. I have many books on war, strategy, weapons from all nations in WW2. None of that has made me a Nazi, nor forget the evils of the Nazis. It is entirely possible, and in most cases probable, that you can collect Nazi uniforms, medals, weapons and not be a Nazi. One of my buddies is a serious collector of WW2 memorabilia but that does not make him a Nazi. Another close friend is from the south and he has the ability to honor those who fought for the south and not be a racist. Yet another friend is Irish and a fan of Michael Collins - all honorable men who served and fought for their country. Of course there are extremists, skin heads, bigots, neo-Nazis, white supremacists out there. I've read Michael Whitman's story (published by Schiffer). He was a Nazi but I can read about his exploits and biography without being evil.

The authors save special disgust for those who are re-enactors, go on the internet to find out details of German uniforms and play computer games. Schiffer publishing company gets pummeled because they are a "small town in the eastern part of the United States". For the record, I have no affiliation with Schiffer, but Alten PA is a mere 25 miles from Philadelphia. All books have to be published - where? New York? Utah where the authors reside? Oh, and don't go on Amazon or Barnes and Noble to buy these books. Avalon Hill is in Baltimore, I guess that's not right either.

This book would have been much better if they simply addressed the myth of any `clean war'. Our battles with the Japanese were every bit as racial as the Germans against the Russians. Very little quarter given or taken there (watch the Pacific HBO series or read With The Old Breed). Could one argue that our Strategic Bombing campaign against German cities were a war crime? What about the Brits who admitted that they were terror bombing in reprisal for what the Germans started?

Using labels to smear students of war as "gurus" "romancers" is not needed. Aside from going overboard with their case, the authors don't even have a recommendation or proposed solution. The last sentence of the book is "The `good German' seems to be destined for life" Who is the target audience here? Serious historians know all of this. Nazi empathizers will ignore it and most Americans do not read history at all. I borrowed this book from the library, so it did not cost me anything to read. I like to see balance in my reading; this book does not have that. Had I purchased it (which would have been from Amazon) I would send it back. I believe in voting with my wallet, the small insights of the first 50 pages or so do not outweigh the last 250.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Not the war I know, and not worth your time or money 3 April 2014
By Magnitude - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Please don't construe this rating or review to be a defense of a pro-German mindset in WWII literature or certain subcultures of society. Rather, this important topic is weakly argued in this book and undercut by several methodological issues and matters of interpretation.

In brief, the authors argue that German generals and soldiers were allowed to shape the narrative about their war on the Eastern Front starting in 1946. Americans, the authors claim, had a favorable view of the USSR as our ally during WWII, but this all changed when the USSR became the USA's Cold War enemy. The image of the German Wehrmacht as a heroic, noble fighting force disassociated from Hitler and the crimes of his regime became a myth that (the authors claim) has continued to survive and thrive in the minds of the American public today.

The authors clearly establish that there are books that have a pro-German slant, and books that focus on German military matters to such an extent that those books ignore the larger and more troubling political context and complicity in war crimes. The authors also establish that there are games that feature German propaganda artwork from WWII, internet forums that focus on German military prowess to the exclusion of all else, and even contemporary Americans who dress up as SS soldiers on the weekends. None of this is in dispute.

However, the authors' argument fails in several respects:

1. They do not prove the popularity of the views, books, or activities that they analyze with data such as polling responses, sales figures, or some other measure.

Their argument is that a wide majority of the American public buys or participates in these things, and yet their examples focus on subcultures: board wargamers; internet chat room participants interested in the Germany military in WWII; and WWII re-enactors. They never establish how many people participate in these activities or read the book in question. Indeed, the fact that these groups are actually subcultures suggests that such beliefs are in the minority. Even within those subcultures, such beliefs may not be uniformly believed (more on this below).

Interestingly, the authors do not evaluate the impact of movies is this review of American popular culture. Certainly, there may be "good German soldier" portrayals ranging from "The Young Lions" to "Cross of Iron," but then there's a movie such as "Enemy at the Gates." (Indeed, the importance of Stalingrad as cultural metaphor for Soviet resolve and mythmaking is on its own potentially huge and yet overlooked by the authors). The impact of any of these films is not analyzed, so it's difficult to take the authors' cultural study seriously.

2. The authors overlook the amount of Soviet-focused research that has come out since the fall of the USSR.

Generally, their account of the myth of the Eastern Front is missing an explanation of why the Soviet version of events got buried in this country in the years since WWII. For example, they never investigate or explain if the Soviets developed a mythology about the Great Patriotic War, or why American research into the Soviet side of the war was difficult or impossible. Indeed, it's plausible that the Cold War limited American investigation into the Soviet version of events, that the Soviets themselves did not want American researchers looking around its military archives and talking with its generals. In other words, to get any history of the fighting of the Eastern Front, the American military had to turn to the only resources readily available to them--captured Germans. Whether these German accounts were more or less accurate than post-war accounts coming from the Soviet Union is not assessed. Were the post-war memoirs of Guderian and von Manstein any different than those of Zhukov and Chuikov? This seems an important question but isn't answered or otherwise explained away by the authors.

What's more surprising is that the authors themselves did not consult the vast amount of research that has come out since the fall of the Soviet Union and measure its potentially balancing impact on the Eastern Front mythology in the USA. For example, they cite one article from David Glantz--from 1970. Given Glantz's reputation and publishing record, this is a huge omission. Similarly, they do not cite any of Antony Beevor's books (a British writer, just like John Ellis, cited by the authors); the impact of Beevor's popular histories on American thinking is not assessed. Thus, as a historiography on the Eastern Front, their book is more appropriate to the state of affairs in 1978 or 1988, not 2008.

3. The authors never address the diversity of opinions and presentations within the subcultures they do analyze.

For example, Americans enjoy re-enacting as American soldiers, not just German ones. Also, while there are plenty of images of Guderian and German soldiers on wargame boxes, there are also images of Patton, American soldiers, and even the occasional Soviet general or soldier. Yet, the authors do not present such images contrary to their thesis, and they fail to acknowledge how such images can coexist along with the pro-German ones that they do show.

Moreover, they miss a critical point in these hobbies: someone has to play the Germans on these pretend battlefields in order for someone else to play the good guys. (Granted, some people want to play the Germans, and that is not disputed here.) Similarly, when playing the Soviets in a well-balanced wargame, one can badly beat the Germans--something the authors never acknowledge as a possible or desired outcome; it certainly is desired by a Soviet player!

While it may be that wargames often allow for play focused on alternative historical outcomes absent of political realities, the same is just as true for a Soviet player as it is for a German one. In other words, in a purely military simulation of the Eastern Front, *both* the German and the Soviet player are potentially ignoring many awful political realities of their respective dictators and regimes. Eastern Front military wargames often ignore all political factors, and not just German ones.

Lastly, it should be emphasized that many of these hobbyists, whatever side they are playing, pay a great amount of attention to historical accuracy, for the simple fact that they like the history and want to get it right. Thus, while the authors' perceptions do have a certain amount of validity, the authors present these hobbyists as homogenously subscribing to an Eastern Front myth. In the face of facts to the contrary, their fundamentally superficial argument is critically weakened.

4. The authors also assume that the readers of these books and participants in these hobbies do not do any other research or reading outside of the items presented here.

For example, the authors seem to suggest that Holocaust literature and research is limited to academia. The impact of the Holocaust on American thinking about Germany in WW2 goes unexamined here, and that seems incredibly shortsighted.

A book such as Christopher Browning's "Ordinary Men" has an Amazon Best Seller rating of #2,276 as of this date; R.H.S. Stolfi's "Hitler's Panzers East," thoroughly analyzed by the authors, is at #1,269,306. The authors do not address the former, or other similar books and media and their effect on American thinking about Germany in the war (ranging from Anne Frank's diary, often read by American schoolchildren, to the widely publicized and visited United States Holocaust Museum... to name just two).

Even in the realm of accounts about military units, the authors mention that the SS romanticizers downplay events such as the Malmedy massacre and Oradour-Sur-Glane (neither on the Eastern Front, by the way). Yet, the authors overlook the impact of accounts such as "Das Reich" by Max Hastings, as well as the many accounts of Malmedy in TV documentaries, movies, and popular history books on the Bulge (arguably one of Americans' favorite and best-known battles of WWII). What is the combined impact of all of these versions of history on American thinking? The authors never say. The Eastern Front, and beliefs about the Wehrmacht, exist in a wider cultural context that is not fully examined by the authors.

That American military officers, WWII readers, and hobbyists may read widely about the war, or that they may read German memoirs skeptically and comparatively, is a thought not entertained by the authors. Certainly, there is an audience for the pro-German, romantic viewpoint in WWII subcultures, and the authors are right to expose such views. However, how widely those viewpoints have been welcomed in the American public, or even within the subcultures highlighted in this book, remains unsubstantiated and unclear.

For all of these reasons, it is difficult to recommend this book to a serious student of WWII, hobbyist, or a general reader. At best, it may illuminate some aspects of American book publishers and subcultures, but in most regards, it's an unconvincing and potentially misleading account.
34 of 46 people found the following review helpful
The Myth of the Eastern Front 2 Aug 2008
By Tom Houlihan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
REVIEW: The Myth of the Eastern Front
by Ronald Smelser and Edward J. Davies II

In the very beginning, during the introduction and first chapters, I noticed a flaw in the presentation. In the introduction, it is mentioned how most of what Americans read of the war on the Eastern Front is from the German, rather than the Russian perspective. While there's no doubt that's true, we must recognize why that is. It's because for many years, those were the only good accounts available! Should we have not read anything until the Soviets let their books out?

Very little history was allowed to leak out from behind the Iron Curtain for decades. It was suspected, and later recognized, that even what was coming out was skewed, as the materials were edited for proper Soviet content. So, we can't be faulted for not reading what wasn't available!

The first chapter is entitled "Americans Experience the War in Russia, 1941-1945," which is quite descriptive of the contents. But even there, it starts out missing a vital fact. The chapter discusses several examples of American visits to the USSR, as well as a media campaign to educate Americans on life in Russia. The chapter describes how the general attitude of Americans was massaged and turned into a favorable one. But there is a major hole in the subsection "The Russian-American Relationship 1917-1941."

In one paragraph, the authors go from 1917 to the 1930s. They completely gloss over American attitudes towards the Communists/Bolsheviks during the first years of the regime. Not only is the negative attitude towards Communists not discussed, but the fact that the US had troops in Murmansk and Vladivostok from 1918-1920 is omitted. This was technically an invasion of their land, and the authors don't even factor it into the relationship! So we have an initial chapter about international relations that is presented as merely educating one country about another, when in fact the former had sent armed troops into the latter twenty years previously. This in fact, in my opinion, affects one of the authors' biggest complaints later.

The second chapter discusses the Cold War, and the growth of a "lost cause" mythology. Now, while I can see similarities in lost causes, I think the authors were wrong in comparing the Confederate States of America to Nazi Germany. While both may have "lost cause" mythologies built up around them, the American perception of these two opponents is radically different. The residents of the secessionist CSA were originally Americans. They were us! I can't help but see this as being rather different from befriending a former opponent as far away as Europe.

What got me about this chapter was the hypocrisy of it. The US, especially the military, was damned for their efforts to learn more about the Soviet Union from the people who had fought them most recently. Our former ally was now a potential enemy (and a formidable one at that). The responsible thing to do was to learn as much as we could about this opponent. In the military, it's known as gathering intelligence. Every responsible leader does it! The hypocritical part, as I see it, is that the authors praised the US for doing the same thing for the Soviet Union that they condemned when it was done for Germany! Never mind the fact that if the USSR did come west, Germany was going to be the main area fought over. In truth, this section did more to alienate the authors from me than any other.

There was another part of the second chapter that I found disingenuous to the point of lying. Halder, as Chef des General Stabs, was decried for having offensive plans for the east drawn up long before Hitler ordered them. This right here clearly illustrates that the authors' knowledge of the military is limited, or that they just chose not to include information that would undercut their point.

Any General Staff, High Command, or the like has contingency plans drawn up at all times. It is responsible preparedness. In the US, these plans were known as the Rainbow Plans*. These plans included potential operations against nations that were considered our allies, or at least not un-friendly. The operative word is `contingency.' To criticize Halder, as the personification of the General's Staff, for having plans for potential operations anywhere in Europe is misleading, or at a minimum, ignorant.

As for claiming that German soldiers, from Private through General tried to hide things in their memoirs, I thought it was a little harsh. It is human nature to minimize one's own culpability for failure. So, to a certain extent that is to be expected in any autobiography or memoir. Very few of us are willing to air our faults for the world to see. That isn't something we can ascribe to any nationality. Certainly, the generals are going to lay more of the blame for loss on Hitler's meddling, but will we ever know how much of that is actually true? There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Hitler's taking personal control of orders down to divisional level hurt the Army's ability to fight. While I don't think Germany could have actually won the war, it certainly would have gone much differently if Hitler had let the professionals do their jobs. Again, I considered this to be twisting reality to suit their goals in this work.

I think that the authors also failed to give enough credit to the common soldiers. They scorn the thought that front line German troops would have patched enemy wounded, or given them food and water. This seems to be a common act, though, crossing any lines of nationality. There are too many accounts of soldiers doing this, regardless of the enemy. There are too many accounts extant to simply scoff at Germans mentioning it for possible self-aggrandizement. The rear-echelon elements, on the other hand, are a different story.

The last three chapters have one thing in common that minimizes their possible value. I think the authors have missed the point on one major issue. The key here is "military history." They criticize people who are interested in the TO&E, or rather, Kriegsgliederung. Apparently, it's not acceptable to be primarily interested in uniforms, equipment, tactics, weapons, vehicles, campaigns, or strategy. I don't study political history or sociology. I'm curious about how the Wehrmacht achieved the victories that it did, while throwing away other possible victories. I'm interested in how some weapons systems performed well, while others didn't. So their condemnation of people like Yerger and Rikmenspoel are petty. Those men, and men like them, study certain facets of the war more deeply than others, and comprehend them better, which makes it easier to explain to the rest of us. They don't deny the politics and ideology of the Reich. That is simply not the area they choose to study. To label them as gurus is insulting to them, and to those of us who read their books. That insinuates some kind of cult, with us readers as mindless followers. What then would the rest of us label anyone who takes this book as gospel, without doing any research of their own?

I understand that war is an extension of politics. However, tactics, weapons, and equipment are apolitical. Thus, any ideological goals of the Nazi Party have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on my studying of Waffen-SS uniforms and accoutrements, or the awards system of the Kriegsmarine. Himmler's machinations for political or personal gain are immaterial when discussing the activities of the 2nd SS-PANZER REGIMENT. Wargaming the Afrika Korps' campaigns to see if there might have been a way for them to march into Cairo, or a successful sortie by BISMARCK, are experiments in military science. Politics and ideology simply are not a part of that. I see no condemnation of wargames about ancient empires here.

As for condemning reenactors who do Wehrmacht or Waffen-SS impressions, perhaps they should have taken that concept a little further. What about other eras? The Federal Army of the United States was instrumental in destroying the culture of the Native Americans, including the use of biological warfare, but those who reenact the Union Army are ignored in this book. I have seen of those who reenact the Roman Legions. The Roman Empire was one of the best at subjugating other nations, and exploiting them for all that could be sent back to Rome, but they are ignored in this book. There are those who reenact English armies from various eras, yet the soldiers of this, one of history's largest empires, are given a pass. In my own personal opinion, I felt that aiming this antipathy was aimed at the targets of personal prejudices rather than the focus of a purely academic study.

This book wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I did find passages of value, but these were far outnumbered by misleading, politically-correct pages that showed a distinct lack of knowledge regarding military history, military science, or the military in general. They have done themselves a disservice by not finding out more about their subject matter before they wrote this book.

*The Rainbow Plans:
Red - Britain and Canada, with different territories assigned variants of that color: UK "Red," Canada "Crimson," India "Ruby," Australia "Scarlet" and New Zealand "Garnet."
Black - Germany.
Brown - Philippines.
Citron - Brazil.
Emerald - in Ireland in conjunction with War Plan Red.
Gray - invading a Caribbean republic.
Green - Mexico
Gold - France and French Caribbean possessions.
Indigo - Iceland.
Lemon - Portugal.
Olive - Spain.
Orange - Japan
Purple - a Central American republic, or possibly Russia (There may have been two different Purples).
Silver - Italy.
Tan - Cuba.
White - domestic uprising in the U.S.
Yellow - China
Violet - intervention in Chinese domestic events.
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