Guderian: Panzer Pioneer or Myth Maker

Overview

Biographers and historians have lionized Heinz Guderian as the legendary father of the German armored force and brilliant practitioner of blitzkrieg maneuver warfare. As Russell A. Hart argues, Guderian created this legend with his own highly influential yet self-serving and distorted memoir, which remains one of the most widely read accounts of the Second World War. Unfortunately, too many of Guderian’s biographers have accepted his view of his accomplishments at face value, without sufficient critical scrutiny,...
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Overview

Biographers and historians have lionized Heinz Guderian as the legendary father of the German armored force and brilliant practitioner of blitzkrieg maneuver warfare. As Russell A. Hart argues, Guderian created this legend with his own highly influential yet self-serving and distorted memoir, which remains one of the most widely read accounts of the Second World War. Unfortunately, too many of Guderian’s biographers have accepted his view of his accomplishments at face value, without sufficient critical scrutiny, resulting in an undeserved hagiography.

While undoubtedly a great military figure of appreciable ego and ambition and with a volatile, impetuous, and difficult personality, Guderian was determined to achieve his vision of a war-winning armored force irrespective of the consequences. He proved to be a man who was politically naive enough to fall under the sway of Hitler and National Socialism and yet arrogant enough to believe he could save Germany from inevitable defeat late in the war, despite Hitler’s interference. At the same time, Guderian was unwilling either to participate in attempts to remove Hitler or to denounce as traitors the conspirators who did. In the end, he distorted the truth to establish his place in history. In the process, he denigrated the myriad important contributions of his fellow officers as he took personal credit for what were, in reality, collective accomplishments. Thus, he succeeded in creating a legend that has endured long after his death.

This brief biography puts the record straight by placing Guderian’s career and accomplishments into sharper and more accurate relief. It exposes the real Heinz Guderian, not the man of legend.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“ . . . a balanced and concise study. . . ”

"At last we have here a concise and balanced account of a major German figure in World War II whose memoirs have simultaneously informed and seriously misled many historians and textbook writers. Professor Hart’s work should set straight the prior accounts of important events before and during the war."

"Russell Hart has helped restore balance to our understanding of Guderian, who wanted the world to see his military genius without asking embarrassing questions about his miscalculations, the cause for which he fought, or the other officers who contributed to his greatness. This book is a much-needed corrective to the hagiography that has been so prevalent up to now."

"Russell Hart, in a concise, meticulously researched, highly readable, and provocative new biography, has taken a fresh look at the legend. While giving due credit to Guderian's accomplishments as an organizer and operational commander, Hart convincingly demonstrates that much of Guderian's reputation as an innovator has been inflated or fabricated."

"This short biography is an excellent and highly readable book that highlights the complexity and controversy of an innovator of armored tactics, while questioning his methods of wanting to prove his combat theories right at any cost."

“This work, part of Potomac Books’ excellent Military Profiles series, is a balanced and concise study of a complex German soldier.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574888102
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/31/2006
  • Series: Military Profiles
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Russell A. Hart is an associate professor of history at Hawaii Pacific University. He earned a doctorate in history from Ohio State University. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, articles, and reviews, including the book Clash of Arms: How the Allies Won in Normandy. He lives in Honolulu.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2007

    A reviewer

    The entire point of this book seems to insult and tear down General Guderian in every paragraph. Even things that Guderian is internationally renowned for turn into horrible character flaws in Hart's book. Furthermore, Hart betrays his own lack of military understanding by underplaying the German's failure to capture Moscow (an event that is almost universally recognized as a major strategic failure), instead stating that it would have made no difference, and indeed, goes all out to support Hilter's military decisions whenever possible. I think the most revealing portion of the book, and the best indicator of the author's biased approach to writing is the occasional 'author's opinion' added into the book in parenthesis. By no means are any of the shockingly bold statements included are back by even the slightest smidgen of historical backing. The author defends this use of opinion by stating often that, 'although it is impossible to be sure.....' and other such nonsense. While he may be correct that Guderian's memoirs should not be taken as a historical document, by no means is Guderian the overrated prima donna completely devoid of military skill that the author suggests, paragraph by paragraph by paragraph.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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