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To many close students of World War II, von Manstein is already considered to be the greatest commander of the war, if not the entire 20th century. He devised the plan that conquered France in 1940, thence led an infantry corps in that campaign; at the head of a panzer corps he reached the gates of Leningrad in 1941, then took command of 11th Army and conquered Sevastopol and the Crimea. After destroying another Soviet army in the north, he ...
To many close students of World War II, von Manstein is already considered to be the greatest commander of the war, if not the entire 20th century. He devised the plan that conquered France in 1940, thence led an infantry corps in that campaign; at the head of a panzer corps he reached the gates of Leningrad in 1941, then took command of 11th Army and conquered Sevastopol and the Crimea. After destroying another Soviet army in the north, he was given command of the ad hoc Army Group Don to retrieve the German calamity at Stalingrad, whereupon he launched a counteroffensive that, against all odds, restored the German front. Afterward he commanded Army Group South, nearly crushing the Soviets at Kursk, and then skillfully resisted their relentless attacks, as he traded territory for coherence in the East.
Though an undoubtedly brilliant military leader—whose achievements, considering the forces at his disposal, cast those of Patton, Rommel, MacArthur, and Montgomery in the pale—surprisingly little is known about Manstein himself, save for his own memoir and the accolades of his contemporaries. In this book we finally have a full portrait of the man, including his campaigns, and an analysis of what precisely kept a genius such as Manstein harnessed to such a dark cause.
A great military figure, but a man who lacked a razor-sharp political sense, Manstein was very much representative of the Germano-Prussian military caste of his time. Though Hitler was uneasy about the influence he had gained throughout the German Army, Manstein ultimately declined to join any clandestine plots against his Führer, believing they would simply cause chaos, the one thing he abhorred. Even though he constantly opposed Hitler on operational details, he considered it a point of loyalty to simply stand with the German state, in whatever form.
It is thus through Manstein foremost that the attitudes of other high-ranking officers who fought during the Second World War, particularly on the Eastern Front, can be illuminated. Manstein sought only to serve Germany and was a military man, not a politician. Though not bereft of personal opinions, his primary allegiances were, first, to Deutschland, and second, to the soldiers under his command, who had been committed against an enemy many times their strength. With his grasp of strategy, tactics, and combined arms technology, he proved more than worthy of their confidence. This book is a must-read for all those who wish to understand Germany’s primary effort in World War II, as well as its greatest commander.
‘…a must-read for those interested in not only gaining familiarity with a more moderate position on Manstein but also for all those who wish to understand Germany's primary effort in World War II, as well as its greatest commander.”
Globe At War, June 2010
“…well researched, convincingly reasoned analysis of a general widely considered one of World War II’s great commanders...”
Publisher’s Weekly, 05/2010
"This book is a must-read for all those who wish to understand Germany’s greatest World War II commander, for both his strategic brilliance and moral ambiguity"
History Book Club
“…an objective analysis not only of Von Manstein's campaigns but also of his participation in the criminal aspects of Nazi Germany's war effort. Much to the author's credit, he does not flinch when he exposes Von Manstein's participation in the “Final Solution” and an intense examination of the Field Marshal's politics, attitudes and behavior towards his enemies. An excellent biography of a flawed yet brilliant soldier.”
The Past in Review, 07/2010
“…hefty tome giving a insight into the character of Von Manstein...One of the interesting facets to emerge from the research put into this book was how chance and luck favored the rise of Manstein and also how it affected the outcome of various operations… if you want to know about the man, this is the book you need.”
Military Modelcraft International
“In a general staff featuring many talented strategists, Manstein was one of Hitler's most exceptional. A veteran of World War I, he attained the rank of field marshal before being dismissed by Hitler in 1944 for frequently challenging Hitler's military decisions. But for all of Manstein's brilliance, Lemay (history, Univ. of Montreal) demonstrates that he was also a willing servant who carried out Hitler's most heinous orders. Manstein saw himself as merely a military officer uninvolved in any political or ideological issues. He was aware of massacres and war crimes carried out by his own men and even refused to forward complaints about such actions to his superiors. Despite Manstein's insistence that he was merely a soldier serving the state, Lemay never lets us forget that he was morally responsible for his own actions. . . . VERDICT A worthwhile addition for World War II enthusiasts . . .”—LIBRARY JOURNAL
“It is widely agreed that Erich von Manstein was the Wehrmacht’s finest general. He was a master of strategic planning, operational command, and tactical boldness. . . . Lemay, a civilian scholar and one of the best of the rising generation of French military historians, synergizes Manstein’s campaigns and his role in the Final Solution.”—World War II magazine
“…straightforward and uncomplicated… succeeds in cutting through the post-war rewriting of history perpetrated by Manstein (and others) and gives us a realistic pictures of Manstein’s career warts and all.”
The Wargamer, 12/20/2010
“The author has successfully maintained a balance between admiration for the military skills of Manstein and condemnation of his involvements in war crimes and total failure to understand the nature of Hitler's rule during the war. The result is a portrait of a great commander but a flawed person.”
History of War, 08/2011
Posted December 1, 2014
Unfortunately I barely started this book when I could no longer finish the book.
Granted, Manstein was a complex and controversial Field Marshall of major magnitude but he deserves more hindsight based on directly relatable evidence.
that his actions were based on, rather than the rather broad-dased opinions of the author. This is not work by a worthy historian but the pre-conceived dreams of a francophile.
Manstein was found guilty of war crimes for actions that took place in his area of responsibility and since he was the 'captain of the ship' his sentence was fair. But to attribute all of the author's opinions to the taint of national socialism is a 'bridge too far'.
Posted January 4, 2011
Posted May 15, 2011
No text was provided for this review.