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  • #102731
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    A few books I’ve read recently, which may interest you.
    These are NOT full reviews, but just my thoughts afterwards.

    If any of these are books everyone but me already knew, I apologize 🙂

    Ordinary Men
    This one is probably well known. A thorough look at an Order Police battalion, their actions as part of the final solution, how the men reacted to and dealt with their orders etc.
    In the main, a study in psychology, exploring both how few men resisted and how the ones who did were generally never punished for doing so.

    This one probably isn’t super interesting to war gamers as such, but it’s a fantastic (if rather grim and unflinching) read and if you want to understand the nature of Nazi Germany’s conduct in the East, it’s an essential read I think.

    The version I got was an updated version which includes a chapter with various comments on and rebuttals to “Hitlers willing executioners” (which I have not read) and additional information on other Police battalions.
    Unless you have read the book mentioned, an old copy will probably do you just as well.

    Death of the Wehrmacht
    Citino is a bit of a specialist in the German military and this book specifically examines the campaigns of 1942.

    His thesis is broadly that the Wehrmacht approach to warfare was a continuation of old Prussian tactical outlooks and that defeat in 42 came as a result of situations where those approaches no longer applied.
    It evaluates in a fair bit of detail Sevastopol, the Soviet offensive and German counter-offensive at Kharkov, the Caucasus offensive and the Soviet offensive to encircle Stalingrad.

    It also covers the Gazala-to-Tobruk-to-El Alamein saga.

    Very well written, easy to follow the action (something operational accounts don’t always do so well, mister Glantz) and overall persuasive.
    It is VERY short on insight into the Allied side of the operations however.
    This would be a good companion volume to f.x. a Glantz or Stahel book on Stalingrad.

    The Wehrmacht: History, myth, reality

    This one has three parts: The first discussing the political situation of the inter-war German military, the political outlooks of the sort of men who stayed in (or joined) the Reichswehr, the nature and pervasiveness of anti-semitism in the military etc.

    The second is a pretty frank examination of Wehrmacht war-crimes, atrocities committed and willing aid provided to same, focusing on the Wehrmacht specifically, over the SS.

    The final part is an examination of the creation of the “Clean Wehrmacht” myth after the war and how it was perpetuated.

    The book is a little stiff to read. It’s written like a research paper in that it does a lot of “Here’s a theory, here’s evidence A, B and C, here’s a conclusion, here’s another theory” if that makes sense?
    Everything is documented thoroughly, but it doesn’t always flow well when reading.
    I found this is best read in chunks, unless you are the sort who’d grade term papers for fun.

    Good read but again, more concerned with the war crimes of the war than with military action.

    Why the Allies won

    Cheating a little, because I haven’t finished this yet but I am reading this with my son and we’re both enjoying it massively.

    The author sets out to discuss..well..what it says on the tin, since he found the typical answer of “great moral crusade” and “superior materiel” to be unpersuasive.

    Each chapter discusses a specific area of the war in a manner that is both extremely approachable, well documented and does a great job bringing the drama of the time to life.

    Chapter topics include the naval war (with Midway and the Uboot battles as examples), the Eastern Front (focusing on Stalingrad and Kursk), The bombing campaign, The Normandy invasion, Production and Morale/Civilian motivation.

    In each case, the author does a fantastic job of explaining just how little each of these areas was “a sure thing” and the extent to which intel, expertise and plain old out-thinking the enemy really tilted the balance.

    Highly recommended to any WW2 nerd.

    So, what have you lot been reading lately that you’d like to recommend?

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #102745
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    I’m reading Autumn of the Black Snake by William Hogeland.  About the creation of the US Army.

    #102750
    Chris Pringle
    Participant

    Citino is a bit of a specialist in the German military

    Dr Citino said some very kind words about my newly-published Clausewitz translation:

    “Interested in Clausewitz but lack the stomach (and the Sitzfleisch) for On War? Here is the antidote, one of the Prussian sage’s more snackable historical works. Napoleon’s 1796 Italian Campaign has it all: flash campaign narrative, deep analysis, and snide remarks about Jomini. Murray and Pringle are erudite commentators and smooth translators. A volume for novices and expert alike.”
    —Robert M. Citino, author of The Wehrmacht’s Last Stand: The German Campaigns of 1944–1945

    https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-2676-2.html

    Clausewitz’s work did make me think of the German generals reading it in WWII. In particular, he has a section about how to defend against river crossings that put me in mind of the debate between Rundstedt and Rommel about how to counter the Allied landings in France. Terrific analysis.

    Chris

    Bloody Big BATTLES!

    https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BBB_wargames/info

    http://bloodybigbattles.blogspot.com/

    #102792
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    Super awesome, I bet that was a feather in the hat to be recognized by an established authority in the field 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #102793
    deephorse
    Participant

    I have both “Ordinary Men” and “Why the Allies Won”, and they are both within 18” of where I’m currently sitting.  I tend not to read such books from start to finish, but rather I dip in and out as either the feeling takes me or when I want to research some particular ‘thing’.

    On the same bookshelf is a book that, to fit alongside Overy’s one, should perhaps have been subtitled “Why the Germans Lost”.  This is “The Wages of Destruction” by Adam Tooze.  It’s a monumental piece of research on the Nazi economy, and I frequently reach for it when a piece of utter drivel on another wargaming website needs to be corrected.

    Less enthusiasm, please. This is Britain.

    #102794
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    Yeah, Wages of Destruction is a phenomenal read, though it’s pretty heavy going since he’s so thorough. At least I found it to be.

    I haven’t gotten to the end yet, but it’s definitely well recommended half-way through.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #102830
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Thanks Ivan.

    I am tempted by “Why the Allies Won?” just to see if someone can justify an answer that isn’t “because they had a lot more men, ships, tanks, guns and aircraft”.  And very tempted to get the Clausewitz translation as soon as I have time to read it!

     

     

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #102834
    deephorse
    Participant

    Thanks Ivan. I am tempted by “Why the Allies Won?” just to see if someone can justify an answer that isn’t “because they had a lot more men, ships, tanks, guns and aircraft”. And very tempted to get the Clausewitz translation as soon as I have time to read it!

    So you’re looking for a reason why the Allies won that isn’t a reason why the Allies won?  Well there is a further factor that Overy puts forward that you haven’t mentioned, but I’ll leave you to get the book to discover that one!

    Less enthusiasm, please. This is Britain.

    #102842
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Not exactly! Just wondering what the author’s take is going to be…I suppose it might be the “Hitler’s poor strategy” one that comes up.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #102843
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    Since we’re apparently in spoilers territory, I’ll just add that while production and bad Nazi decisions are certainly discussed, the main thrust of the first few chapters are not either of those. And Winter is barely mentioned 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #102844
    deephorse
    Participant

    Go on Whirlwind, buy it!  You know you want to. 

    Less enthusiasm, please. This is Britain.

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