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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Operational Coverage of the Battle, 29 May 2011
This review is from: The Battle of Kursk (Modern War Studies) (Paperback)
The war for Hitler and his Allies had been deteriorating since Stalingrad and Hitler had to have a major victory to keep his coalition together. Though he wasn't convinced that Citadel would be that victory, his Chief of Staff sold him on it.

The first two chapters is an introduction and overview of the first two years of the war. Talks a little bit about Hitler and his reasons for the offensive on the Kursk salient, rebuilding of the Wehrmacht and also about his obsession with weaponry etc. The section on Tigers, Panthers and Elephants is of special interest.
The next chapter, "Preparations" presented the buildup of the armies for both sides and also describes the extensive defensive efforts made by the Russians. An abbreviated Order of Battle is included. A table is also furnished that shows the superiority of men, tanks and guns the Russians had over the Germans. This superiority plus the benefit of well built defenses gave the Germans little chance of winning this engagement. This chapter was a big help in acclimating the reader for the upcoming battle.

The next 5 chapters describe the operational details of the assault and the Soviet counterattack. I was a little surprised with this section for Mr Glantz missed some coverage. There are several other books that have minor battle action, especially in III PzC sector, that is missing here but this book is still overall the most complete tactical coverage I can find. The battles involving the 48th PzC and the 2nd SS PzC on the southern boundaries are especially revealing. The way the passages are written you can easily see how the two Korps worked and protected each other against frontal and flank attacks. The author excelled with the tank battle near Prokhorovoka which made up for the missing coverage of the few days prior to this engagement.

A key interest to many is the number of panzers that were destroyed in the campaign. Mr Glantz creates a spreadsheet, broken down by Corps, Division, type of tank, and by day. In summary, the Germans for both fronts lost 323 destroyed tanks and 1612 damaged but recoverable tanks compared to 1614 destroyed Russian tanks. The author makes a point that the Germans were able to repair and redeploy most of those 1612 panzers. Mr Healy in his book, "Zitadelle", makes similar arguments and numbers. Mr Zukes in his last book also calculates a similar count.

There are 32 good maps spread out throughout the book; you'll have a pertinent map close by to study as the narrative develops. The maps are busy with lots of detail but are much more readable than the maps Mr Glantz has in his last two books. There are so many units involved and individual engagements that maps are critical in following this campaign and these maps are helpful in this respect.

The author does such a good job of describing the battle. You can see the momentum change from the German's beginning few days of the assault to the slowing of their advance and then the stopping of the advance at Prokhorovka. The Germans never really had a chance to reach their objectives; the Soviets had build too strong of a defense, had too many men and definitely had too many tanks for the Germans to overcome. The book also shows the Soviet's continuing habit of grinding down the German offensive, sacrificing their first echelon in order to suck the enemy in and launch a counter offensive in an attempt to surround and destroy the enemy. It happened in front of Moscow, at Stalingrad and now here.

Mr Glantz ends the book with important and poignant conclusions about the battle action and for the expectations of the rest of the war. The Germans lost all strategic long term offensive capabilities and would be forced on the defensive, limited to minor tactical counter-attacks for the rest of the war. There were political implications as well that were discussed. Also of interest was Manstein's argument with Hitler to start Citadel as soon as possible. The Field Marshall didn't believe the addition of the new Panther would make up for the lengthy delay. The author suggests that had the Germans launched earlier, without waiting for the new Panthers, that the results wouldn't have changed drastically.

This battle is so important to the outcome of the war and Mr Glantz does a very good overall job of telling us about it. This is one of the three best books (English) on this campaign and if you're a war buff you should definitely read it not only for its tactical coverage but also for its strategic importance. The other two authors are Mark Healy and Steven Newton. Their books offer different insights and they complement each other for a fuller picture.
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