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3.8 out of 5 stars9
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 23 October 2011
This is a good but select overview of Operation Barbarossa. While there is one chapter of the German drive toward Leningrad and another chapter on its drive toward Rostov in the south, the major emphasis covers the advance of AGC toward Moscow as well as the Soviet counter-attack that repulses the Germans from entering the capital in December 1941. It also emphasizes Guderian's 2nd PzG's march south in September to assist Rundstedt's AGS in closing the Kiev pocket. Some of the battles of AGC include the capture of Minsk, Smolensk, Kiev pocket, Vyazma, Bryansk, Orel, Mozhaisk, Kaluga, Kalinin and the attempt on Moscow. It also shows that with so much armor with AGC, the flanks had a difficult time taking Leningrad and Rostov.

The objective of the author is more than describing the introductory status and conditions of the two sides and the military highlights of the Operation; the strategic significance of the book is to show the Germans were able to advance and destroy Soviet armies at first but by December 41 when it reached the Leningrad, Moscow, Rostov line, it had reached its zenith, had exhausted itself and didn't have enough men and panzers to finish off the Soviets. By the time it reached Moscow their own large casualties and the extended line prevented the capture of Moscow and through implication that the Germans actually lost their chance to defeat the Soviet Army. An important element within this overview was the author's coverage of the controversy within the German ranks of rather it should go straight on to Moscow from Smolensk or delay AGC's advance and have Guderian divert to Kiev to relieve flank pressure before moving on the capital.
Mr Glantz covers the actual historiography in some detail on the advantages and disadvantages of taking Kiev first before moving on Moscow but then only briefly states the general reasons why going straight on to Moscow in late September when the Western Front was preparing defenses was the wrong strategy and gives little hard core numbers or other facts to support this contention. You are to accept his word as accurate during the narrative though some of his supporting material can be found in the Endnotes but it can be a trying process to navigate for the casual reader.
The author's presentation of the Kiev first strategy may be more convincing to hardcore contrarians if a credible scenario could have been developed showing the Moscow first strategy failed worse than the Kiev first strategy. The scenario would begin showing 2nd PzG defending near Roslavl through 9/10 and launching with AGC toward Bryansk after Timoshenko canceled his offensive. The time sequence of this new scenario would be somewhat different than actual history due to different launch times and locations, strength status, defense preparations and deployments as well as different reinforcement schedules and weather etc.

The conclusion was short but credible and was the glue that binds this book together. It started by explaining why the Soviets were completely unprepared for the invasion: the recent purges, poorly trained soldiers, inexperienced officers, inadequate defenses at the new border and obsolete weapons and equipment. Mr Glantz proceeds to list the many strategic mistakes Stalin and the Red Army made in the opening months. Then a list of changes the Stavka started to implement to improve their Army that would eventually lead them to be the equal and then surpass the Wehmarcht is provided.
On the German side, a concise discussion of Hitler's changing objectives of Operation Barbarossa that would delay the advance of Moscow and cause friction within the Army is prominent. The author expands this train of thought to briefly describe the difficulties AGC would have had if it did advanced past the Desna River toward Moscow in September without ever sending Guderian southward. The chapter was concise and covered the key points but greater depth of the existing points (as mentioned above would have made the book more compellng.

There are eight useful B+W maps that show the general deployments and axes of attack that complement the narrative well. The Notes Section is very useful and provides a lot of secondary information if you take the time to study it. The included Appendix has Orders of Battle and key documents like Hitler's Directive 34 and 35 to study. A Bibliography and a few photos are included as well.

As a summary, I gave this book five stars for it covered the necessary points to argue his position that despite the early successes, the Germans were unable to defeat the Soviets while they were vulnerable and that in a long war of attrition, Germany couldn't defeat the larger, improving colossus that was the Soviet Army.
Though enjoying the book and freely recommend it, I found myself and suspect other enthusiasts of the Eastern Front will want more after finishing the book. The author's new book, "Barbarossa Derailed" does add to the key points of this book and is also recommended as is Bryan Fugate's "Operation Barbarossa".
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on 21 January 2014
This is more in the vein of an academic review so if you are looking for something that desribes the 'action' in detail then this is not the book for you.

There is obviously a large amount of detailed research behind the finished version and it is interesting to understand the approach that both sides took to the conflict.

Overall an interesting and informative read
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on 2 August 2014
This was an interesting read, covering the initial phases of Operation Barbarossa, effectively until the end of the 1941 campaign season when the Wehrmacht's advance ground to a halt in the snows of the Russian winter. The book gives a useful overview of the campaign and sits very much at the operational/strategic level, with much detail of the ebb and flow of the respective forces at army, corps and divisional level. For me, here lies the book's greatest weakness as there is frequent reference to numbered formations (divisions, corps and armies) and their commanders and it is impossible to keep on top of who is doing what to whom. The maps, as with the Kindle version (I gather), are at the back of the book so one has to keep referring there to try and get a visual feel for what is going on. And the simple fact is that these are large scale maps showing the broad sweep of the invasion, so often the necessary detail is missing. Nonetheless, overall Glantz does a good job of depicting the general picture of the initial successes of the Wehrmacht and how it starts to slow down in the face of Russian geography, poor logistics support and the simple belligerence of the Russians in resisting the Nazi onslaught. The book also highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing sides, through well-considered conclusions and summaries, and makes all too clear the Soviet stavka's constant (and unhelpful) interference and the continuous reorganisation of fronts,army groups and armies. In particular, the final conclusion provides a superb overview of 'why it went wrong' for the Germans who based their offensive and expectation of success on a doctrine (blitzkrieg) which, arguably, was never going to work on the vast areas of the western Soviet Union, and how they had become victims of their own mythologising of that doctrine.
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on 20 November 2011
Wow! This is a must have for any student of the Soviet-German War, or indeed for anyone who wishes to know why the German invasion of Russia in 1941 ultimately failed.

The work is encyclopaedic, contains detailed narratives of the main military operations, appreciations of the situation at different times and places, and exhaustive notes.

Of especial interest is the light that Dr Glantz sheds on the use of the cavalry formations of the Red Army: I should like to know more about the odyssey behind German lines of the 1st Guards Cavalry Corps.

The judicious summary explains exactly what caused the Wehrmacht to stall its offensive drive outside Moscow, and how and why the Red Army regained the initiative.

Why only 4 stars? I should have liked more information on the experience of 'ordinary' soldiers, especially those of the Red Army. This is very much a top-down account, and the focus is on grand strategy and higher formation tactics.

Even so a stunning work.
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on 1 December 2013
Adam Tooze in 2006 produced the most comprehensive account of the economic side of the German war machine - Wages of Destruction. Tooze's account of Barbarossa was that Germany advanced with no reverses, short of fuel, using 850,000 horses and were even considering demotorizing as the Royal Navy blockade of Germany starved the country of food, rubber, fuel, etc, etc.

The Germans were to use only 3 rail lines to supply the all the German armies, when normally three lines would be used for just one army. To make matters worse the Soviets effectively sabotaged the rail tracks and evacuated the rolling stock. Look at the economic side, which is essential, as many military types do look at matters having an unlimited supply of equipment. Amateurs talks tactics, professionals logistics.

Barbarossa was timed to snatch the east to gain its resources, as the USA stated in May 1940 it was to build 50,000 planes per year and then the UKs production on top. These planes were coming Hitler's way and he knew it and he knew that the time from order to finished plane was 1.5 years. The RN blockade meant Germany could only look east for resources - and fulfil its USA of Europe ambition by default. As Barbarossa commenced German production shifted from army to air force equipment to prepare for the coming air war, which did come.

Hitler was a gambler and gambled in France against all the odds and won - more to allied incompetence than anything the Germans had done. He thought he could gamble doing the same against the USSR using the same tactics. His tactics failed.

A book like this has to be accompanied by Wages of Destruction to give the whole picture.
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on 27 March 2015
A really boring read - an endless list of the units involved in every last skirmish of the campaign. No sense of the overall big picture of the campaign. OK if you are a WW2 anorak but not an informative book on the overall campaign.
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on 10 February 2013
An excellent description of Hitler's campaign against Stalin. The Kindle edition suffers from having all the maps at the end of the text. Reading the book with simultaneous access to Google Earth proved a great advantage. What would now be interesting would be to read the story from the point of view of one or more of the soldiers involved.
Thoroughly recommended.
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on 29 May 2014
Purchased this book from this dealer on Tuesday 2 days ago and it has arrived today Thursday and the book is very clean packed very well.
I'm extremely please with this dealer and I recommend other reader to take a look
Recommend ***** 5 Stars
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on 18 April 2015
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