18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A well researched and effective though select summary,
This review is from: Between Giants: The Battle for The Baltics in World War II (General Military) (Hardcover)
I thoroughly enjoyed Mr Buttar's "Battleground Prussia" and was anxious to read this sequel. Like the first book this book is highly researched and is packed with lots of details regarding the giants' prewar history, the combatant's organization, the evolution of Blitzkrieg, operational experience, weapons and their victims under occupation.
The author begins his saga with background information of the key players not exclusively but mostly during the interwar period. During this prewar period the author explains why the Soviets did so poorly during the first year of war and includes the military purges that destroyed the command structure, poor training of the troops and the use of obsolete planes, tanks, other weaponry and lack of communication equipment. Several reasons why Germany attacked its larger economic partner deals with defeating Communism and creating a new larger living space for the German people as well as controlling Russia's natural resources. Germany also sported several military advantages that would temporarily overwhelm the Soviets. It also includes practices and ideologies as well as relationships between Germany, Prussia, Soviet Union, the Baltic countries and to a lesser degree Poland.
While the book contains a lot of material and insight of this period, it doesn't provide a complete look at the operations for Army Group North for the entire 1941-45 period for it doesn't provide coverage of the siege of Leningrad. It does cover the planning of Operation Barbarossa and the German advance up through Aug/Sept 1941 period when AGN captures the three Baltic countries. Mr Buttar then provides good coverage of what it was like for the citizens of those countries under German rule, especially for the Jewish community which saw many thousands of its people executed.
Military coverage resumes in January 1944 when the Soviets break out of the Leningrad encirclement and begin to push the Germans back. The determined Narva River defense as well as the repeated attempts to penetrate the Courland defenses are prominent in the second half of the book as the Baltic and Belorussian Fronts try to drive Army Group Courland into the sea. Late in the book Mr Buttar links the connection between the fighting in Prussia and Courland. In "Endgame", a summary is delivered of why AG Courland was able to hold off the superior Soviet forces as well as the evacuation attempts of German forces in Prussia and Courland at war's end to escape Soviet post war retaliation.
The author has done another fine job of providing a lot of battle information on the individual corps and divisions as well as pertinent events while still making the book interesting and easy to follow. While building mini profiles on individual commanders and their divisions, the overall advantages and disadvantages that each side processed is shown as is the depths of the struggle both sides endured. Some German commanders that are highlighted include Model, Lindemann and Hansen while for the Soviets Bagramian, Yeremenko, Chistiakov, Govorov are frequently presented. For the Germans the 4th PzD and 12th PzD are also presented often for their extraordinary efforts in keeping the superior Soviet forces at bay.
There are 14 B&W maps; they're simple but useful. I personally would have liked a little more detail. A photo gallery presents some of the key officers of each side as well as including some battlefield scenes. There is a small appendix but no Order of Battle. A decent Notes Section and an impressive Bibliography is included if further study is desired.
From his many sources, Mr Buttar has accumulated, choreograph and presented an eminently satisfying summary on the rise and fall of Army Group North. For any reader interested in the fighting of this place and time or in the occupation of the Baltics this book is worthy of your consideration.