Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
on 2 April 2011
This is an impressive book, primarily because Mungo Melvin has here perfected the art of demonstrating that the principles of successful operational art can be smuggled into a fast-paced, interesting narrative, without the general reader being aware of it. Accordingly, there is as much here for the campaign planner as there is for the man on the Clapham omnibus. Both will walk away with a satisfying surfeit of rich things. The book provides a fascinating reminder that genius in the application of operational art is ultimately futile if the grand strategy is wrong, as it surely was in Hitler's plans for the subjugation of the East. The Soviets feared Manstein as their greatest opponent, but in the end his genius could not build more tanks, recruit more soldiers or replace the battle casualties (both human and mechanical) that constant warfighting in the East was to consume in the face of the long term Soviet superiority in this area.
The clarity of Melvin's explanation of the principles of operational manoeuvre, and of Manstein's mastery of it, is superb, but the author carefully avoids the pitfall of hagiography, presenting the man 'warts and all', not shying away for instance from issues around the systemic abuse of the rules of war by the Wehrmacht.
This book is an impressive achievement and is highly recommended.