on 26 April 2013
I have been looking forward since last year ) 2012 ) to this book arriving -
well worth the wait -
442 printed pages on high quality paper , with a lovely brown dust-jacket cover.
I have received my copy direct from the Publisher yesterday ( 25 April 2013 ) and browsing through it , I am totally amazed how much fine detail and personal stories are inside , along with the whole complete story of the last stand of the German Army Group South -
For the record - there are * no * repeat , no photos in this book
Hinze's accounts are superb and and the 'Courage of Desperation' completes Hinze's trilogy .
to give an example - you get the full story of the last battles ( hardly covered in any detail in English ) for Vienna and Austria in March - April 1945 .
You also get clear explanations of why something happened and the background to decisions made, and what commanders plans were to have been , and what actually happened - The book is not a dry read and I recommend you get his other 2 books
TO THE BITTER END , and CRUCIBLE OF COMBAT 1944 -
my lovely copy already has had the dust-jacket protected with a PVC cover sleeve - its is very valued and worth the money .
Please note , my copy plus postage was £ 42.90 direct from Helion .
The book was very well protected in cardboard with a black pvc wrapping .
If you order from Amazon you will save almost half the price , that you would pay from the publisher or in a bookstore
( good luck finding a copy there !! - as there are fewer and fewer bookshops left )
get your copy of this book whilst still in print !!
on 3 May 2013
This last book of Rolf Hinze is the sequel to and equal of "Crucible of Combat". There are many similar attributes between them: they both have extensive coverage of the German side, provide good descriptive operational coverage and analysis. There are many detailed maps between the two books. They have the same translator so that if you have read "Crucible" you'll know what to expect in this new book. There is a little overlap in coverage between the two books but the transition is smooth. Though this book has a little more Soviet detail, there could certainly be more; this might be an issue for some. If there had been more Soviet coverage or anecdotal presentation, I would have felt more comfortable giving five stars.
The book begins in March 1944 for the battle to control the Kovel sector as well as the German attempt to close the gap at the boundary line between AGC and Army Group North Ukraine which was a short distance north of Kovel. After describing the key battles dealing in AGNU sector, the author transitions into AGSU sector as the Soviets build up forces for their next push into Europe.
The action dramatically escalates in July as the Soviets begin their summer offensive and the German circumstances deteriorate dramatically. At this stage of the war, the Soviets have an overwhelming advantage in men, tanks and guns, morale and though the Germans put up a relatively stout defense there is no practical way of holding back the Red Tide for very long. The Germans do pull off a number of successful local counter-attacks that delay the Soviets but its too late in the war to reverse the retrograde movement or even stop the enemy's advance as the Soviets push the Germans beyond Rumania, Hungary and into Austria. Its also shown that Hitler's reluctance to react to actual battlefield conditions had detrimental effects on the Wehrmacht.
As a veteran of the war, Mr Hinze clearly has empathy for the German cause, showing pride of German accomplishments and remorse for German defeats. He also reminds the reader the Germans performed well against the stiff odds but at least he doesn't distort the history. The operational history is very good with the author drilling down to the events incurring in each relevant division. This empathy can also be seen with brief coverage after the war with the inhuman treatment German POWs received in Russian Gulags. A small sample of battles covered include Tarnapol, Lemberg, Jassy, Debrecen, Bucharest, Ploesti, Budapest, along the Danube and ending with the battles in Austria.
Key political events are covered as well, including the defection of Rumania to the Soviets as well as the attempt by Horthy to leave the Axis and sue for peace. Soviet's occupation of Bulgaria is also mention.
There are 69 B&W maps that have the same format as the maps in "Crucible". The maps have lots of detail but I found them hard to decipher at first. I had to invest a lot of time and make a lot of crib notes to make them useful.
There are 60 fewer pages in this book than in "Crucible" but when you consider there are 36 fewer maps and no photo gallery in the new book, the level of operational details are comparable between the books with a slight advantage to "Desperation" in Soviet coverage. There is an abbreviated Order of Battle for the Germans, a good Bibliography, but sorry to say few notes and no Index.
While there is a lot of information presented on the many divisions and regiments, their movements, objectives captured or lost, there is a noticeable lack of personable content. There is little analysis on commanders or their command decisions and there is also a dearth of first hand personal or anecdotal accounts. Some readers will see this book as dry and maybe even uninspiring.
I found this book to be an informative tactical read that added to my knowledge of the war in the south. The author provides important historiography that when added to the more popular history to the north, will give students a better overall understanding to the end of the war and if you have such an interest of this time and place, these books should be a part of your core library alongside books by Georg Maier and Rudolf Pencz which adds a more personable touch. Recommended to all interested students of the war.