Customer Review

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work that is long overdue!, 11 Aug 2010
This review is from: Manstein: Hitler's Most Controversial General (Hardcover)
When I first read that biography of General-Field Marshal Erich von Manstein was about to be published I was elated. When I learnt the said work was to be written by a senior British military analyst and historian I literally couldnt wait to get the book.

I was not to be disappointed.

This book is an indepth and articulate historical study of the man who in the humble opinion of this reviewer was the last great tactical genius of conventional warfare, and was long overdue for a serious study and biography.

Western historians and military figures have traditionally swallowed German wartime propoganda(mostly Goebbels work) and assumed that the likes of Rommel and Model were german military geniuses, while the standout German military leader was in fact Erich von Manstein. Hitler admired Manstein ability but loathed his attitude and aristocratic background, and saw von Manstein as a threat. Hence his promotion of individuals such as Rommel.

Although von Mansteins name is well known to serious students of military history it is less known to historians and the public at large. This book quite rightly seeks to address that lack of knowledge about this talented and complicated individual.

From the conception of the successful invasion of France to the capture of the Crimea, and holding the Red Army at bay - as much as was possible - as the German Army retreated after Stalingrad, Manstein was the man behind all these successful military ventures, in both the planning or operational levels.

The author has not attempted to gloss either the good or bad parts of the Field Marshals character or experiences.
This is not a journalistic piece with an 'axe to grind' or an ideology to expound. Rather it is a study of man whose profession was war, and one in which he excelled at a level that few of his contemporaries - Allied or Axis - could match.

Issues such as his lack of support for the German Military Resistance to Hitler, and why he never resigned in the face of National Socialisms destructive effect on Germany(and Europe) are explored by the author, and he successfully and clearly explains von Mansteins thinking.

One of the pleasures is the ease with which one can read the military maps, which is something civilians such as myself often have trouble understanding the intricacies of. Obvious attention to details and patience was taken to provide maps of great clarity which can be understood easily.

The author writes with ease, and draws the reader very effectively into Manstein and his world. And whilst the grand military and tactical skills of the man are made clear so are the details of his life: domestic, political and cultural.

If history - especially of controversial and bloody periods - is to be studied objectively, correctly and most important of all truthfully, then it needs more books of this calibre.
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