This review is from: Panzer Wedge: Vol.1, The German 3rd Panzer Division and the Summer of Victory in the East (Stackpole Military History Series) (Paperback)
Its my understanding this book was originally published in 1942 with the sole purpose of stoking the fires of patriotism in the homeland. The original book was probably never meant to be anything but highly biased and I suspect that Robert Edwards and Michael Olive have spent a lot of time editing and dialing down this zeal to a more manageable level as well as adding new material. My idealistic views may be a little harsh considering this background but my comments are made based on the final product regardless of the historical circumstances Having been with the division and using his own experiences as well as using diaries and interview material from his comrades, Lt Fritz Lucke has reconstructed a very personal history of one of the elite panzer divisions of the Eastern Front that had nearly 50 Knight's Cross recipients. It begins on the eve of the Russian invasion and ends shortly after crossing the Dnepr River around the August period. The division was part of the mighty 2nd PzG and had an important role in the closing of the Kiev pocket among other important engagements.
This is more of a verbal history of the men and internal affairs of the division than it is a hard core technical and analytical presentation of the division's tactical contribution to Operation Barbarossa. The tactical aspects of this book is way too general for me; its true that certain cities, roads, objectives or other milestones are mentioned as the drive progresses but the complete picture of each engagement is not provided, nor is this comprehensive for there are engagements mention in other books that are missing here. This book could never be confused for the complex detail or analysis of a David Glantz book. I'm not trying to run this book down but am trying to distinguish it from the works of Glantz or Nipe or Zamulin which are more technical and less personal and to give the prospective buyer an insight of what he'll be receiving.
While you'll learn a lot about the men of the different battalions or regiments of the division, you'll receive only an occasional and briefest mention of other German divisions that are on its flanks or in reserve behind it. You receive absolutely no coverage of specific Soviets divisions or their maneuvers used in confronting the 3rd. You'll review the division in practical isolation with no practical view of the bigger picture of the 2nd PzG that the 3rd was fighting within.
There are a few simple black and white maps that provide some support but there could have been many more maps to provide the reader with even greater understanding of the overall advance.
The photo gallery of 100 photos, some full page, is excellent and includes key German commanders, foot soldiers and battle scenes and provide an extra incentive to buy the book but there are no Notes, Bibliography or Index.
Though I enjoyed reading about the comradery of the division and the dangers and difficulties the men faced, I would have preferred deeper analysis and range of coverage. Even considering the limits of a divisional history, this book could have been much better by giving deeper descriptions of the tactical advance, better analysis, better integration between the 3rd PzD and the overall advance by AGC. Adding a minimal amount of specific information on the Soviet perspective would provide a more rounded experience in showing what the division was up against. If you are looking for a general purpose view including many anecdotal experiences of this German division you may like and rate this book higher than I did. I gave it three stars not only because it doesn't conform to my interest levels but because even taking it for what the authors were trying to accomplish, the story line could have been tighter, more organized and structured but if your main concern is about the life experiences of the men of the division plus a general overview of the advance then you will probably like the book quite a bit.