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Battle For Narva, 1944
Battle For Narva, 1944
by Mansal Denton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.37

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simply Disappointing, 25 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Battle For Narva, 1944 (Hardcover)
AGN didn't have the battle history of AGC or AGS but it deserves better than what it receives in this book. The Soviets who broke out of the bridgehead and pushed the Germans back certainly deserves more than they received which was practically nil.

The book claims 112 pages but if you deduct the two title pages, the blank pages that were counted and the other fluff there is only 103 pages. The book is divided into two sections: a battle summary and a photo gallery but the text section also has numerous photos. If you deduct the photos from the summary section, there is only 14 pages of text (large font) devoted to combat. Needless to say there is very little detail to this book. The book is also entirely from the German perspective; there is no coverage of the Soviet side in the text.

There are five maps but only three could be considered tactical in nature and only two show German positions. For the Soviet side you get arrows of advance. The one map shows the breakout of the Oranienbaum pocket that eventually pushes the AGN back to the Narva River line. The other tactical map is the initial attack at penetrating the Narva line. The third map is the actual penetration of the Narva line in July but it just has arrows and no deployments.

There are quite a few photos, a few being half page or full page in size. They're not bad but there are no battle scenes. What you get are pictures of Narva in shambles and its river, a few German soldiers digging trenches, German soldiers at rest between battles, officers posing for pictures as well as a few field guns and panzers.
In the Appendix you have an equivalent rank chart, a general composition of German and Soviet units, a citation list, a few career profiles of key Germans, a causalty list and a few statistics. There is some useful info here.
There is a two page Bibliography of dubious value. The two books by Otto Carius and Wilhelm Tieke are the only English language books that could add to the story. David Glantz's "The Battle for Leningrad" which is not on the list also has some coverage that would be useful.

I don't like being critical of a young man who had the initiative to write a book but his efforts fell far short of the mark. When he writes his second book, I hope he knows his subject matter better and writes a more comprehensive and demanding history.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 28, 2012 3:13 PM GMT

The End: Hitler's Germany, 1944-45 (Allen Lane History)
The End: Hitler's Germany, 1944-45 (Allen Lane History)
by Ian Kershaw
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The final distinergation of Germany, 16 Sept. 2011
Some of Mr Kershaw's earlier books have dealt with Hitler and his Nazi regime; after much new research he expands on that universe with his latest work.
Using the last ten months of the war as a backdrop, the author studies and explains the ideological, psychological, political and social circumstances that makes Hitler and his stooges drive the country to annihilation, sacrificing its people in order to stay in power for as long as possible. Its irrational but with the scale of vengeance being extracted by Stalin and secondarily by FDR's terms of unconditional surrender, its also an act of desperation, an attempt to prolong the inevitable defeat. A second defeat that will surpass the humiliating one of 1918. Hitler uses the invention of his super weapons among other reasons as his excuse for not surrendering but these weapons would be few in numbers and have little effect on the outcome even if Hitler could have delayed his defeat for months. Once evidence of the concentration camps became public, there would be no reprieve for the Nazis and they knew it. Besides Hitler, Boorman, Jodl, Goebbels, Speers highlight this book. The author does a good job of profiling these men.

The book describes the repressive, sadistic nature of Nazism providing one of the reasons why most Germans though by now having lost faith in Hitler never tried to rebell. It goes beyond fear. The Germans had more than a decade of propaganda from Hitler and Goebbels and believed in German superiority. As long as the war continued there was a chance to win; surrendering meant that dream would evaporate. Besides the discussion of these four henchmen, the daily lives of the German people also play an important role in this story, having to endure the tribulations of war as well as their leaders' fanaticism. Examples of those tribulations are throughout the book. The discussion is extended to cover why the Wehrmacht continued to buckle under Hitler's rule, rejecting a coup de tat or why his appointees, for the most part, stayed loyal.

While there are glimpses of battle action like towns or sectors falling to the Allies, the coverage is brief and secondary and is a means of showing the state of Hitler's shrinking, deteriorating domain as the Allies close in from the east and west. As the military situation worsens you see Hitler lose his grip on reality, firing key Generals like Hausser, ordering impossible feats to be accomplished and allowing the dissension of Party members to take control of their own principalities and committing their own atrocities.

There are nine maps that are useful but unremarkable. There is a nice photo gallery of key German personalities that are discussed in the book as well as a few photos that show the desperation and destruction of Germany. This book is highly annotated and has an impressive reading list if further study is desired.

As usual Mr Kershaw's writing style is engaging and informative in describing the intricacies of this environment and for anybody, especially new students, interested in all the ramifications of the collapse of Germany in 1945 this book will be beneficial. Though some of this material can be read in other books, more experienced students will also appreciate the arguments and positions that are presented and the logical manner in which this story is developed.

III. Pz. Korps At Kursk 1943
III. Pz. Korps At Kursk 1943
by Didier Lodieu
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £33.07

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all Kursk fans, 4 Sept. 2011
If you have read a number of books on Kursk including the fine books by Mark Healy and David Glantz but always suspected their coverage to be incomplete when it came to the 3rd PzC which was deployed east of the Donets River, you should consider this book. The other books would provide sufficient coverage to show the 3rd PzC was behind schedule and was too far behind to adequately support the right flank of 2nd SS PzC or to directly assist in the tank battle near Prokhorovka but comprehensive coverage seemed lacking. This book, while awkward in spots, improves that situation. It has good coverage of the tactical and personal experiences of the Korp and its attachments but it too doesn't have complete coverage and is meant to be a supplement to those other books. Quite a few personal experiences, with photos of the men, are described to add to the experience of the tactical coverage. The primary sources for this book are the daily logbook entries of all the divisions under Kempf and the many interviews of the survivors after the war. The biggest contributor was Richard von Rosen, a young tank commander in the Pz Abt 503 who devoted much time and documentation to the author.

The book is broken down by day and by division which makes it easy to follow. The coverage begins on July 5th and ends on July 12th. The primary coverage is given to the 6th, 19th, 7th PzDs along with the Pz Abt 503 and the 198th, 168th IDs. The smaller attachments are only incidentally mentioned. The book closes with a list of daily entries of casualties as well as panzer strengths by division. According to the logbooks, the 3rd PzC lost more panzers than was publicly announced by many books.

There are over 200 fine photos, taken by reporters attached to the 6th PzD, of the men and battle scenes which adds value to the narrative. The weakest link in this book would be the maps. First off there are only 7 colored maps. Its adequate but having a few more maps that show greater detail in shorter timeframes of the German advance would be better. There are many villages in their assault zone that are missing, making it a little difficult to follow some of the action. Even though the 3rd PzC was not directly involved in the immediate Prokhorovka area, the town should have been included on some of the maps as a reference point to allow readers to understand better the progress being made by the Korp in relation to the SS Korp. This book is highly German-centric and the Soviet deployments were inadequate.

Even if you have books by Glantz, Healy and Newton, reading Lodieu will add to your overall understanding of this key campaign and is recommended to all Citadel fans.

King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel)
King Tiger vs IS-2: Operation Solstice 1945 (Duel)
by David R. Higgins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It may not be everything you expected but its still a good read., 28 Aug. 2011
I gave this book four stars for Mr Higgins provides a lot of useful information in this tiny sub 80 page package but slipped on providing adequate coverage of a one on one nature. I learned more about these two impressive tanks than I did from my 600 page encyclopedia. The author also chose well on the overall operational history section. Though I can disappointingly recount only two brief examples of one on one battle actions between these two rivals, the author compensates, if your predilection is to the operational, with his centerpiece example Operation Solstice which pitted the Pz Abt 503 against the Soviet 11th Guard Tank Brigade. The author also provides profiles of several key tankers of this late period.

This book has the same ingredients as the others in the Duel Series. In the introduction, a brief history of tanks starting from 1920s is given before moving on to a two page war chronology tailored to these two tanks. The key chapters follow that includes Design and Development and Technical Specifications where you really learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each tank. I particularly liked the design and development phase where engineers try to improve on existing technology in building these critical weapons. The Tiger II had a number of small but important improvements over its predecessor that gave it potentially better durability though toward the end of the war when Germany's supply of chromium and molybdenum was scarce negated these improvements.
Comparing the different tank and ammo specification sheets you will learn that the Tiger was a larger, heavier, more lethal machine than the IS-2 and despite having a smaller gun and lighter shell had a greater kill and penetration range. There is a comparison chart showing penetration vs distance out to two KM and the Tiger had the advantage at every interval.
You will also learn about armor protection and metallurgy, gun parameters, ammunition characteristics, gunsights and targeting procedures, communications, tactics and training. The Tiger also had the advantage in loading and firing times. The interior illustrations of each tank were also interesting and shows the cramp quarters, especially in the IS-2.
Other differences include: the Tiger II like its predecessors was a complicated, expensive machine that took many man-hours to build. The IS-2 like the T-34 was build for simplicity and ruggedness and high production numbers. In the short time period that the IS-2 was produced, three times the number were built than the Tigers I and II combined.

The last half of the book deals with battle history of the combatants and its introduction covers the poor Strategic Situation Germany was facing at this late stage in the war. Germany and its forces were in a confused, poorly supplied state and was no longer capable of having a prolonged, strategic offensive. The battle overview begins with the Soviets sweeping through Poland and fighting for Pomerania to get to the Oder River. The center piece to this battle history is Guderian's plan to have the 11th SS PzA counter-attack and close the gap in the line while destroying 2nd GTA.

If you have read "The Roer River Battles" or any of Mr Higgins' many articles, you know he has a talent for conciseness and providing a lot of information in a small package. Its no different here. In a relatively few pages you will know the highlights of the Soviet's advance to the Oder and the feeble attempts by Germany to stop the enemy with this operation. Operation Solstice potentially was a good plan to drive south through Arnswalde toward Kustrin to encircle the 2nd GTA but the Germans weren't strong enough at this stage to succeed but it did cause the Soviets to pause their advance to regroup. The author explains this and more in Aftermath. There are a couple of color maps to show the dispositions and axes of attack for this operation.
In addition to the maps, there are good photos, illustrations of the tanks and the shells used. There is also a two page action scene which was very good. The book closes with a good Bibliography and Index.

The author provides a lot of useful information on each tank, showing strengths and weaknesses and though there is only brief exposure to direct battle action on a tank to tank basis, the author builds a credible operational overview that includes units using these tanks. Perhaps the author misjudged by his lack of one on one action but his coverage of Operation Solstice is an important part of histology. I enjoyed and learned a lot from this particular combination of information and freely recommend it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 22, 2012 4:36 PM GMT

Battleground: The Greatest Tank Duels in History (General Military)
Battleground: The Greatest Tank Duels in History (General Military)
by Steven J. Zaloga
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wise assortment of Duels, 21 Aug. 2011
This is a collection of five previously written Osprey Duel books, authored by three prominent tank specialists: Steven Zaloga, Robert Forczyk and Simon Dunstan. Zaloga's books which include coverage of WWII, the Korean War and Desert Storm are "Tiger vs Sherman Firefly", "M26 Pershing vs T34-85 and M1 Abrams vs T72". Forczyk's book "T34 vs Panther" includes battles of WWII. Dunstan's book "Centurion vs T55" deals with the Yom Kipper War. ( I individually rated this collection of five Duels with three five stars and two four stars ratings. The average came to over four stars so I rounded it to five stars because of the utility of a collection.)

These Duel Series books have similar structures that include a history of design and development for each tank along with specifications. Features are described like armor thickness, gun/firing characteristics, available ammunition, gun sights, mobility, communications, interior design, reliability and more. Then the features of the two tanks are compared with an overall assessment at the end. Many illustrations and tables are provided to add to the narrative. Key tank aces and training are also given.
After talking about the tanks each author will describe the tank combatants and a brief background of the war and battlefield the tanks fought in. Then specific battles are then discussed like Operation Citadel, Operation Rumantsyev in the east and the Normandy invasion in the west during WWII. During the Korean War, fighting on the Pusan Perimeter is highlighted. Due to the page limitations, battle coverage is not comprehensive but you will learn something new about the included battles and its sufficient to allow the author to confirm his appraisal and analysis of each tank.

There are also color maps of the battlefield which is helpful as well as several dual page action scenes for each section. There are also many tank and terrain photos as well as color illustrations to study.

There is much to like about this book if you're into tanks and mobile warfare. The coverage includes tanks, personalities and battles from four different decades: WWII, the Korean War, Yom Kipper 1973 and Desert Storm. Even though there is only 76 net pages to each section, the authors have packed a lot of useful information on the tanks along with some info on the key engagements of the wars. A number of tank aces like Wilfred Harris, von Sivers, Otto Carius, Michael Whittmann and others are included. The saga of Whittmann's last days was especially good. In addition to the interesting narrative, a number of poignant tables are included to give the reader quick access to the essentials of each of the ten different tanks. Mr Zaloga chose to include many stats on the old reliable Sherman M4A when discussing the Firefly variant. As mentioned before, some of the tables include information on specifications, production figures post WWII, armor protection, ammo used, accuracy, firing performance, tank losses during the war. If you didn't read the rest of the book, just these tables could tell you a lot about these tanks. This book also allows the reader to see the evolution of the tank and its individual systems over this period.

Even if you already have one or two of these individual Duels this book would still be worth purchasing and if you don't have any but like tanks, this hardcover book that includes five different Duels from four generations for the price of a little more than a single Duel is a bargain.

Bloody Streets: The Soviet Assault on Berlin, April 1945
Bloody Streets: The Soviet Assault on Berlin, April 1945
by Stephan Hamilton
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Coverage of the Assault on Greater Berlin, 21 Aug. 2011
The tactical coverage of the assault on Greater Berlin is the best I've found and if you wanted only one book on this subject, this would be it. That said, I should warn you that the coverage all along the Oder and Neisse Rivers at the beginning of the assault is not as complete. Nor is the 9th Army encirclement or the attack of 3rd PzA to the north by the 2nd BRF. Books by Erickson and Le Tissier can supplement the action in these areas.

Besides the narrative, the maps and photos make this book unique. The many large maps are unusual with troop symbols overlaid on aerial maps. The author does a good job of showing the Red Army's progress on closing in and encircling Berlin on these maps.
There are many fine large photos as well. The collection does a good job of showing the death and destruction of the city and the Third Reich. It also shows the key commanders on each side.

Jumping to the front of the book, the Preface is interesting as well. It gives insight into the author and his interest in urban warfare and the many years he devoted to this book. It also describes his connection to the Ryan Foundation.

The first four chapters sets the condition of the two armies and the assault zone prior to the engagement. This will help people who are not well read on the battle.
The two chapters on the actual battle are broken down by day and the author does a good job of making a complicated assault easy to understand. One point of interest is the pointing out of the poor judgement of Zhukov in executing his battle plan because of the influence placed on him by Stalin and Zhukov's obsession to beat Konev to the Reichstag.
The author also has a chapter on post war that was good. Mr Hamilton wants to remind us that Germany and its people continued to suffer after May 2nd at the hands of the Red Army. Another chapter that is interesting describes how a select number of Germans tried to escape Russian rule after the surrender.
An Order of Battle is also presented.

Even if you have read other authors on the fall of Berlin, this book has coverage the others don't have.
With useful maps, detailed coverage of the operational, a number of first hand accounts as well as having interesting photos, this book is excellent and is highly recommended.

The Oder Front 1945: Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici, Heeresgruppe Weichsel and Germany's Final Defense in the East, 20 March-4 May 1945
The Oder Front 1945: Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici, Heeresgruppe Weichsel and Germany's Final Defense in the East, 20 March-4 May 1945
by A. Stephan Hamilton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £59.95

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Soviets cross the Oder, 17 Aug. 2011
Mr Hamilton sets himself with three objectives in writing this large book containing 334 pages. First is to provide an in-depth look and analysis of General Gotthard Heinrici, a reputed specialist on defense, as CO of the Oderfront. Secondly, using primary information like diary entries from all levels of the army, phone logs and other documentation to reconstruct the battle events of the Soviets crossing the Oder, taking Seelow Heights and pocketing 9th Army. The exploits of 12th Army west of Berlin and 3rd PzA on the lower Oder are also provided. The actual capturing of Berlin is not included and you'll have to read the author's "Bloody Streets" for that. The author's final book will provide additional information on von Manteuffel's 3rd PzA.
The last objective ties the first two together and is as intriguing as the first two. The author argues that the battle for the Oder and the battle for Berlin is not part of the same homogeneous battle to prevent the defeat of Germany. Rather it was two separate battles with two separate commanders with different ideologies and agendas. Hitler saw Berlin as the ultimate Fortress City that should be defended to the last bullet and saw the Oder line as secondary and would defend Berlin at the expanse of Heinrici and his defense of the eastern border. Knowing the retribution the Soviets would levy on Germany, Heinrici wanted to delay Zhukov at the river as long as possible and delay him from getting anywhere near Berlin in order for the Western Allies to cross the Elbe against Operation Eclipse and reach the capital first. This idea of a fair post war solution to a weary Army and country runs throughout the book.
This story is not only about Heinrici's attempts at fighting the Soviets but also about his failed attempts of convincing Hitler of changing his strategy. It goes beyond that for Heinrici and a few key officers wanted to disavow Hitler and run the final battle as they saw fit. In the end Heinrici subjugated to Hitler and lost his chance to improve Germany's post war chances.

The author begins his book by describing the key events of the last half of 1944 that will impact the military aspects of the last months of the war as well as forming the psychological instability of Hitler and his command structure. Some of these events include Operation Overlord, Operation Bagration, the assassination attempt on Hitler and the failed Ardennes Offensive. Included in this first section is a profile of General Heinrici which goes a long way in explaining his motives and actions during the battle. The whole book is greatly influeced by Heinrici's thoughts and actions but Wenck, von Trippelskirch, Jodl, Keitel, Busse and others are frequently mentioned.

Following this discussion, the preparation for battle and disposition of troops of both sides is explained. This section is 55 pages long, is pretty deliberate but not exhausting.
Besides planning, preparation and Army status, preliminary fighting begins in the later half of this section that includes the important siege of Kustrin and the several attempts to relieve it. The Germans watched helplessly as the Soviets defeat their allies in Eastern Europe while concentrating forces at the border for the final assault. This book generally excludes the actual capture of Berlin, leaving the reader to follow that action in the author's first book.
Among many other things, it also includes German intelligence failings and German underestimating their enemy even at this late date.

The third section, starting in mid April and lasting until the first week of May, is the daily chronicle of the battle for control of the Oder, the capture of Seelow Heights, encircling 9th Army and their subsequent breakout attempt. It also includes the exploits of 12th Army west of Berlin and the fighting of 3rd PzA on the lower Oder and so much more. The last book in this trilogy will have additional info on von Manteuffel's 3rd PzA and other supporting documents.
While there is some mention of Zhukov, Konev and Rokossovsky and a few of their key divisions, much of material covered is German oriented. The author deliberately wanted to bring out the German perspective in not only the fighting but also because of the importance of the poor relationship of Hitler and Heinrici and the fragile condition the Germans were in at this time. The four distinct components of this complicated battle (excludes Berlin) is clearly explained. Some may be disappointed in the lack of depth of the Soviet side but the author does clarify the German perspective, one which I fully didn't understand.
Most of the data in this chronology is based on primary sources: war diaries from division, corps, army level. Personal comments, phone logs and other official documents are also used but the centerpiece of the information is the manuscript written by General Heinrici during his post war custody. In addition to that the author adds his considerable knowledge to the daily summaries and analysis.
The author blends diary entries and phone conversations with his narrative to make it more interesting and informative; much of the information is operational in nature but reading the phone logs and situation reports you will also feel the rising desperation and despair of the German soldier/officer.

There are a total of 85 maps: 26 are B&W while the remaining 59 maps are colored. The B&W maps are a mixture of hand drawn and computer generated. The hand drawn maps, some drawn by Heinrici, provides insight as to what the officer is considering as well as the tactical aspects of battle.
The color maps are authentic battle maps that have been overlaid with hand written dispositions and axes of attack. Most of these maps are full page and because the pages are large and the pages are heavy glossy white stock, the reproduction of these maps is very good but there are still instances where its difficult to read the hand writing and except for major cities and significant land features you can't read the small print or decipher the many villages and highways. While I enjoyed these color maps and appreciated the effort it took in publishing them, the computer generated B&W maps were also helpful. Mr Hamilton also uses pointers to direct the reader to the correct map that corresponds to what is currently being read. With so many maps, this feature is really helpful.
The author also provides some interesting photos of the battlefield as well as a few of civilians trying to stay alive. There is also a 64 page Appendix that includes many different features including several post war studies, career profiles of key German officers, an OB and much more.

The author also provides many Notes, an Extensive Bibliography and a useful Index.
While this work is definitely noteworthy and is a standalone book in itself, I sense from the author's comments that Volume 2, which is coming out shortly, will have important new and supporting data and that all serious students should be prepared to have both books if the ultimate experience is to be achieved of this milestone event. When you add "Bloody Streets", you will have an awesome collection for this critical period.

5th Guards Tank Army At Kursk (Visual Battle Guide) (Visual Battle Guides)
5th Guards Tank Army At Kursk (Visual Battle Guide) (Visual Battle Guides)
by David Porter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Soviet Perspective on the Southern Salient, 14 Aug. 2011
This is Mr Porter's companion book to "Das Reich at Kursk". The two books have many things in common. They have the same general layout, sharing respective chapter titles and almost identical page lengths. The exact twelve maps are shared as are the comparison charts. They also have the same strengths and weaknesses. One difference between the two books is the German book covers a division while the Soviet book covers a whole army. Since the chapters are basically the same including page lengths, the coverage of 5th GTA while having good width, its depth of coverage suffers a little.
The books begins with the start of the Red Army under Trotsky after WWI before moving on to the war with Poland that was lost, to the troubles Stalin's Army had in the first 18 months of the war and finally to the setback of Kharkov 1943.
After the history, specifics of the start and organization of 5th GTA and Rotmistrov's rise to be the head of that Army are presented. Afterwards a fairly extensive Order of Battle is presented that not only includes the 18th TC, 29th TC, the 5th GMC but also the 2nd TC and 2nd GTC. The OB filters down to Brigade and Battalion level and includes the commanders of the key units. This chart will be especially helpful when you are reading more detailed accounts of the campaign. There are also many org charts of these formations to allow the reader to understand the many facets of 5th GTA.
As in "Das Reich", the key weapons, especially the T-34, equipment and vehicles that this army used along with many illustrations are presented. A chapter on the contributions of the Red Air Force at Kursk is also interesting. Illustrations of their aircraft was included.
This "front end" of this primer was good, informative and while the rest of the book wasn't bad, the coverage of this tank army at Kursk was very,very brief. The coverage provided only the smallest window of how the different corps of the 5th GTA performed and impacted the German forces.
After the 12th, coverage surprisingly continues to include Operation Roland and a few key Soviet victories up to the Korsun Pocket in early 1944.

There are 12 computer generated color maps that begin by showing the entire Soviet front at different times of the war and then the maps drill down to the Ukraine, then the Kursk sector to the Kursk salient, to the southern portion of the salient. Half of these maps can be seen in popular atlases. Of the salient maps, there are three maps that include Das Reich. They have good eye appeal but from my perspective are modestly populated, showing only some of key villages, no fortified hills and with the exception of the Psel River are devoid of labels for the other five rivers (when they're shown) that were a major part of the battle field. Also the deployment of forces and axes of advance are not precise but close enough to give an indication of the progress the Germans made and their final positions before they had to retreat.

There are no notes but a brief Bibliography and Index along with a few photos are included.
Overall, these primers by Mr Porter have some fine features and provide good reference material about the respective units but I couldn't give five stars due to the secondary role the author gives to the actual battlefield events south of Kursk. If, after reading these two books, you want more of the battle facts of Operation Citadel, the new book, "Kursk", by Lloyd Clark is a good choice.

Kursk: The Greatest Battle
Kursk: The Greatest Battle
by Lloyd Clark
Edition: Hardcover

78 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Praiseworthy Overview, 2 Aug. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For anybody who wants to read about the Campaign for the first time or for those who have read about it a long time ago, this would be an excellent overview to read. To the best of my knowledge, it contains the latest scholarship that refutes some of the exaggerations that have been around since the battle. One area that Mr Clark frequently visits concerns the number of tanks that were destroyed and the subsequent numbers of remaining tanks available to the key corps and divisions to continue the battle.
In addition to the ground action, the author frequently touches on the air war, showing examples where a battle was won or at least not lost with the help of their air forces. Extending the coverage further, partisans ambushing a supply convey that would never reach Hoth or visiting a field aid station with overflowing patients waiting for attention or sappers trying to clear a mine field during a bitter battle and more are presented in this book. The key officiers like Vatutin, Rotmistrov, Hausser, Manstein and others are discussed with mini profiles developed. Appraisal and analysis is also provided which was good and accurate but with a depth that was a little less than can be found in books by Glantz or Zamulin.

Considering the format and content of this book, I would consider this ideally suited for new or intermediate students of the Campaign. Of the 382 pages devoted to the main section of the book, only 174 pages cover the campaign. The other 208 pages are directed to the first years of the war from Barbarossa to Kharkov 1943 to the buildup for the invasion. The history of the two countries and their dictator's rise to power since the end of the Great War begins the book.
As a comparison Valeriy Zamulin's recent book, "Demolishing the Myth" consumes 559 pages on just the operational aspects of the Campaign.

Along with the narrative are ten maps; six are small scale maps of the salients. They're quite helpful showing key sites and deployments of key units as well as axes of attack but I would have liked more of the villages and fortified hills displayed and not all of the Soviet units were shown. The maps were spread out throughout the book but from my perspective weren't aligned with the story very well. In some cases the reader will have to scroll back to hunt for the map that displays the information that is currently being read. A small photo gallery is also provided.
Both salients are covered but the southern battle is more dominant. The book is also German-centric but the Soviets are still represented fairly well.

There is a very capable Notes section and an impressive Bibliography of primary and secondary sources if further study is desired. An abbreviated Order of Battle for both sides is helpful as well. The author also quotes Glantz, Nipe and Carell. There are a few typos but nothing that would cause a lot of confusion.

This is an interesting, easy to follow story that will provide sufficient operational information that will probably satisfy most readers and plenty of first hand accounts blended seamlessly into the story to show what it was like fighting in a tank, a plane or a trench during this horrific battle. This is a quality effort and if you have an interest in Operation Citadel, you should consider reading it.

FYI: Clark's other Kursk book, "Kursk,The Battle of the Tanks" is the EXACT SAME BOOK AS THIS BOOK.

Dunkirk 1940: Operation Dynamo (Campaign)
Dunkirk 1940: Operation Dynamo (Campaign)
by Doug Dildy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice job of covering the key aspects of Operation Dynamo, 30 July 2011
In the opening chapter. "Origins", the author briefly explains how Kuchler captures Holland in five days and how Guderian took four days to travel through the Ardennes to reach the fortress town of Sedan, then quickly capturing it before turning toward the coast in order to enclose the Allies in a pocket when Army Group B also reaches the French border. Once informed of the Sedan penetration, General Gort quickly recognizes the danger and disregarding the French orders and safety, orders the BEF to fall back from the Dyle River to beyond the Senne line in a phased withdrawal that eventually take his people back to the Dunkirk Perimeter. This chapter filled only two pages, providing the bare essentials but more details would have been preferred.
There was a two page Chronology that ranged from 9/1/39 with the Polish invasion to 6/22/40 with the signing of the Armistice. It was very good.

Opposing Commanders was another chapter found wanting. The profiles of Gort, Ramsey, Abrial and Fagalde were nice but profiles of Brooke, Dill, Montgomery, Alexander are absent though they are mentioned in the campaign. Billotte, Gamlin, Weygand, Reynaud and Churchill aren't mentioned in the campaign but a few words are included in the Chronology. On the German side Kuchler and Richthofen are profiled but Runstedt, Guderian and Kluge aren't.
Opposing Plans and Opposing Forces are very good and helps the reader follow the Campaign. Plans for Operation Dynamo are spelled out clearly, so showing the difficulties of evacuation of the difficult French coast while under fire. On the German side, a good explanation of what the Germans will try to do once they see the Allies were falling back to the Dunkirk-Lille area. The forces for both sides are also clearly provided, ending in a detailed Order of Battle for all three countries for the Army, Navy and Air Force. The author gives equal weight to the action on land, sea and air. Goring's boast of his Luffwaffe and Hitler's halt order is discussed as well as the spoiling counterattack by the BEF at Arras.

The Campaign is laid out in typical "Dunkirk" fashion on a daily basis ranging from May 26th when Operation Dynamo was enacted to June 4th when the survivors of the pocket surrendered. Though page limitations prevented the coverage of every event, all the key events were well covered. The conflict at sea and in the air was also nicely done. The British and to a lesser extent the French lost or had damaged a large number of ships and planes caused by the Luftwaffe or from their coastal artillery. The evacuation of the British Air Force back to England is covered. The Belgian surrender on May 28th was covered. The failed attempt by the British to stop the Norway invasion is also mentioned.

There were five 2-D maps that were excellent that were serialized to show the shrinking pocket starting on May 26th and working to June 4th. The maps showed detailed troop dispositions and the many towns and canals the combatants had to fight through as the days past by. One of the maps shows the evacuation routes used by the British to evacuate over 300,000 men as well as the difficult maneuvering of the tricky waters off northern France and Belgium.
There were three 3-D maps. Two of which were of the Dunkirk pocket, one dated 5/30 and the other for the period of 6/2-6/4. Both maps had helpful commentary to assist the reader in following the battle. The other 3-D map was not as helpful. It was a rendition of the sinking of the Wakeful and the Grafton when it moved in to rescue the survivors on May 28/29 after they left the harbor.
There were also three two-page illustrations. They included the Battle for Cassel, the major Luftwaffe raid on 5/29; the major dogfight over Dunkirk on 5/31. All were nicely done.
The many photos were good and added to the narrative. There were many photos of men and equipment on the ground, ships at sea as well as many aerial photos.

In Aftermath, the achievements are succinctly mentioned as well as the costs in men, ships and planes to both side. The author believes Operation Dynamo was a successful evacuation but not a major victory that some historians passionately claim.
I would say the author is well versed on this campaign and was highly focused. This premise is confirmed when you look at the impressive reading list that is provided. If further reading is desired, this list will definitely help.

If you haven't read about Dunkirk before, this book would be a good starting point. Its also a nice complement to the recently published book "Maginot Line 1940" by Romanych and Rupp. They're both freely recommended.

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