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A Flawed Genius: Field Marshal Walter Model, a Critical Biography (World War II) Hardcover – 15 May 2010
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This is a well written and researched book. --Windscreen, March 2011
This is a well written and researched book. (Denis Chorlton Windscreen)See all Product description
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All in all, Model seems like an interesting subject for a biography.
Stein bases his work on a lot of the recent research into WW2 and the amount of knowledge and detailed information crammed into the book is impressive. Stein has consulted a large number of primary and secondary sources.
Alas, his book does not contain very much about Field Marshal Model. Totally absent is the usual (more or less chronological) narrative of the man and his deeds. Many major events - e.g. the battle of Kursk - are hardly described at all; the author apparently considers these to be too well known. But this makes the book less accessible for the reader not-so-well versed in the history of WW2.
Instead, the book is filled with details about a lot of other personalities, which were more or less (often less) involved with Model. The reader will learn about a von Küchler, a Hans Speidel, a von Lötzen, etc. and many pages are devoted to such relatively unknown persons.
Marcel Stein has some clear messages that he wants to convey. The main one is that all German generals of the Wehrmacht (i.e. armed forces - as opposed to the SS) were accomplices in the murders of Jews and other civilians in the occupied areas. The second message is that most of the generals actually performed very poorly, while Hitler was an outstanding strategic genius and had a clear understanding of the situation. Stein wants us e.g. to believe that Hitler already in 1941 realized that the war was lost - and that he never thought that the 1944 Ardennes offensive would be successful.
The book devotes many pages to descriptions of the atrocities of the Germans. Of course this subject should never be neglected, but the attempts by Stein to link Model to these activities are rather tenuous.
Stein has a habit of not letting the facts and words speak for themselves. He wants to pass judgments on his subjects directly. Example: "But Model's willful ignorance of politics is unforgivable" (p. 50).
Towards the end of Model's life he is described as "tired". In Chapter 9 we suddenly see some "Orders of the day" that he issued in 1945, and which rather suggest that he was getting towering mad. Stein also makes a remark to this effect, but does not attempt to integrate it into his portrait of Model.
Read on its own, this is a curious book indeed. Read together with Stein's biography of Model's peer Erich von Manstein, it become clear that Stein basically once more wants to pass on his pet messages, this time using Model as the superficial pretext.
The result is a poor biography, but a book with many other interesting elements.
Bordering on hate literature...... but is it really any surprise.
This book is exceptionally interesting for the information it gives about the German Army. It appears that it was a brutal, murderous but efficient entity. The most interesting fact I gleaned from this book is that in WW1 hardly any soldiers were executed for desertion, cowardice etc- less than the British army. Yet in WW2 their were many hangings and shootings. It appears that the German military were suffering from a reaction to the previous war which brutalised them.
The book is well worth reading for anyone who values the truth.
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