5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An excellent and unique book,
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This review is from: Lost Victories: War Memoirs of Hitler's Most Brilliant General (Zenith Military Classics) (Paperback)
This book is an account of the three major German campaigns of World War Two in which the author was engaged. It has three themes.
The first and major theme is the strategic and grand tactical approach to the defeat of Poland, the defeat of France and the invasion of Russia up to 1944. This top-down description of the battles gives a fascinating insight into the problems of fighting a war and the way a senior professional soldier deals with them.
The second theme running through the book is the good and the bad influence of Hitler on the rise and fall of Germany in this period. His political genius for successfully manouvering other States finally deserts him when he invades Poland. He then embarks increasingly on a disastrous path of directing the armed forces, for which he has neither the training nor the experience. Manstein points out the opportunities missed, the defeats suffered and the battles thrown away by Hitler's mistakes. Finally Manstein's repeated demands for Hitler to appoint a professional soldier to manage the war objectives leads Hitler to sack him in 1944.
The third theme is the rigorous German approach of the times to military duty and loyalty. Manstein is proud of this tradition, which runs from top to bottom in the armed forces. It is breathtaking to read how this duty is performed in complete disregard of the usual norms: breaking of treaties, disregard for neutrality, slaughter on the battlefield, mass assassination and the clear trend after 1942 that Hitler is leading the nation to disaster. Manstein explains that he tolerated Hitler because a military coup would have left Germany a prey to the Allies and Russia. A rather sad viewpoint because in the event, after millions more deaths, that was precisely the outcome.
This is a clear and well-written book that gives an informed and unique view from a very senior German professional soldier.