Panzerkrieg: The Rise and Fall of Hitler's Tank Divisions

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The image that defines the Nazis' Blitzkrieg is that of the Panzerwaffe's massed columns of tanks sweeping through Europe, all resistance smashed in their wake. The Panzers' achievements in battle were largely responsible for Germany's early successes in World War II, and once the tide had turned against the Reich, the Panzers became the backbone of its defense. But the dramatic story of Hitler's tank divisions is more than one of mere mechanical efficiency. It hangs, too, on those who commanded and fought in ...

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Overview

The image that defines the Nazis' Blitzkrieg is that of the Panzerwaffe's massed columns of tanks sweeping through Europe, all resistance smashed in their wake. The Panzers' achievements in battle were largely responsible for Germany's early successes in World War II, and once the tide had turned against the Reich, the Panzers became the backbone of its defense. But the dramatic story of Hitler's tank divisions is more than one of mere mechanical efficiency. It hangs, too, on those who commanded and fought in them, and believed in their near invincibility. These are the men who come to life in this immensely readable narrative. Great generals like Guderian, Rommel, and Manstein, tank masters like Wittmann and Bake, and inspired commanders like Balck and Bayerlein dominate the story of Panzerkreig. Dispensing with jargon, but including explanatory maps, rare illustrations, and fascinating detail on uniforms, crew members, and the mechanical features of the machines, the authors give a comprehensive overview of all aspects of the subject, both human and technical. They have also benefited from new information available since the opening of Cold War archives. Emerging from the narrative is the whole vast canvas of the war, as it follows the titanic struggles that raged between France's bocage country, North Africa's desert wastes, and Russia's limitless steppes. The development of German fighting vehicles and tactics is fully charted, and the many myths and misconceptions of the Panzerwaffe are exploded. Extensive research, maps, illustrations throughout, reference to the leading participants' memoirs, and original new conclusions all contribute to this finely measured assessment of the evolution, exploits, and eventual destruction of this superlative fighting force.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The story of the German masters of armored warfare, their machines, and the campaigns they fought during WWII. Irish journalist McCarthy and County Mayo archaeologist Syron begin their exploration of panzer warfare by tracing the grudging respect German officers developed for Allied tanks during WWI. Innovative officers like Heinz Guderian dedicated their lives to developing and perfecting an aggressive armored doctrine. This innovation, alongside creative, mission-focused training, eventually made German armored forces the masters of the early WWII battlefield. According to the authors, such emphasis allowed Guderian and other German professional soldiers to overcome superior Allied and Russian equipment and numbers with superior tactics and agility. Despite these advantages and for all their professional knowledge, German tankers still had to contend with Hitler's incessant meddling and increasing paranoia. But although the F├╝hrer squandered his armored forces with poor military decisions, McCarthy and Syron argue that the panzer armies still extracted a heavy price from their enemies. Interestingly, they conclude that the tank armies' true legacy lay in new training methods and revised Cold War doctrines that Hitler's enemies developed after successfully defeating Nazi Germany. Will please general history readers and enthusiasts alike. Very few specialized histories capture the story of Germany's WWII armored forces as richly and concisely as this. (Illustrations and maps throughout)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786710096
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1 CARROLL
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter McCarthy was born in 1974 and works as a journalist in County Waterford.
Mike Syron was born in 1977 and works as an archaeologist in County Mayo. The authors first met when at University College Dublin where they soon discovered that they shared a fascination with the history of the Second World War, particularly that of the German armored forces.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2002

    FINALLY! A book that covers it all!

    This book is excellent in that it deals with the entire history of German Armored forces in the Second World War. Many other books focus too intimately on a single engagement or are far to broad to allow the reader to understand the scope and tactics used by the panzer forces. All of the great panzer commanders are showcased in action in this book: Guderian, Manstein, Rommel, Dietrich, all are present in this book. The reader is finally able to see what the panzertruppen saw in the fields of France, the sands of the Sahara, the murderous Russian steppe, the hedgerows of Normandy and Brest, and the deep freeze of Moscow, Stalingrad and the Ardennes. Highly recommended to long time military history enthusiast, and especially to a new student of military history, who will find it an invaluable resource.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2003

    Rehash of self-serving German memoirs

    The book is essentially a uncritical regurgitation of self-serving memoirs of defeated German military men who tend to blame everyone but themselves. Their favorite scapegoat, as usual, is Adolf Hitler. There is no effort to take advantage of more recent scholarship on the subject, particularly the works of Colonel David Glantz, U.S. Army (Retired). Admiral William Crowe, USN (retired), and former Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, often stated that amateurs think tactics while professionals think logistics. This, in short, was why the Germans failed in their invasion of the Soviet Union. The advances by the Panzers outstripped their supplies and the footbound infantry. The pause at the end of July 1941 was necessitated because of this. In other words, the German Army lacked fuel, repairs, etc., to continue. This problem was not unforseen by some German military planners. Early on in the planning of the invasion of the Soviet Union German war games predicted this but this was dismissed. Ironically one of the planning officers predicting this problem was non other than Friedrich Paulus. Another thing was that the Germans gave short-shrift to strategic goals. They were enamoured with tactics, as are amateurs. Tactics may look spectacular but they do not substitute for grand strategy. They run around the Soviet Union, much like Rommell did in Africa, but they lacked an overall strategic plan. Their actions often appeared to serve no real purpose but to put another notch in their guns. A very disappointing book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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