The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years' War to the Third Reich

Overview

For Frederick the Great, the prescription for warfare was simple: kurz und vives ("short and lively")—wars that relied upon swift, powerful, and decisive military operations. Robert Citino takes us on a dramatic march through Prussian and German military history to show how that primal theme played out time and time again.

Citino focuses on operational warfare to demonstrate continuity in German military campaigns from the time of Elector Frederick Wilhelm and his great ...

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Overview

For Frederick the Great, the prescription for warfare was simple: kurz und vives ("short and lively")—wars that relied upon swift, powerful, and decisive military operations. Robert Citino takes us on a dramatic march through Prussian and German military history to show how that primal theme played out time and time again.

Citino focuses on operational warfare to demonstrate continuity in German military campaigns from the time of Elector Frederick Wilhelm and his great "sleigh-drive" against the Swedes to the age of Adolf Hitler and the blitzkrieg to the gates of Moscow. Along the way, he underscores the role played by the Prussian army in elevating a small, vulnerable state to the ranks of the European powers, describes how nineteenth-century victories over Austria and France made the German army the most respected in Europe, and reviews the lessons learned from the trenches of World War I.

Through this long view, Citino reveals an essential recurrent pattern—characterized by rapid troop movements and surprise attacks, maneuvers to outflank the enemy, and a determination to annihilate the opposition—that made it possible for the Germans to fight armies often larger than their own. He highlights the aggressiveness of Prussian and German commanders—trained simply to find the enemy and keep attacking—and destroys the myth of Auftragstaktik ("flexible command"), replacing it with the independence of subordinate commanders. He also brings new interpretations to well-known operations, such as Moltke's 1866 campaign and the opening campaign in 1914, while introducing readers to less familiar but important battles like Langensalza and the Annaberg.

TheGerman way of war, as Citino shows, was fostered by the development of a widely accepted and deeply embedded military culture that supported and rewarded aggression. His book offers a fresh look at one of the most remarkable, respected, and reviled militaries of the past half millennium and marks another sterling contribution to the history of operational warfare.

This book is part of the Modern War Studies series.

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Editorial Reviews

Armor
Takes the reader on a sweeping march through 300 years of Prussian/German military history and operational thought.
Journal of Military History
Citino is one of the most insightful historians of operational warfare working today. . . . A fascinating and important book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700616244
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 7/29/2008
  • Series: Modern War Studies
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 717,386
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert M. Citino is professor of history at Eastern Michigan University and, during 2008-2009, will hold the Charles Boal Ewing Chair of Military History at West Point. His books include Quest for Decisive Victory, Blitzkrieg to Desert Storm and Death of the Wehrmacht.
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The German Way Of War

    A well researched book about 300 years of Prussian/German strategic, operational and tactical thinking on the art of war. With plenty of maps and illustrations throughout. It was an interesting read from beginig to end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2006

    Interesting Book

    This book has a very interesting somewhat different take and is most enjoyable to read.The illustrations are very good as are the maps. The characters are vividly described.It is interesting to read several aspects of the book. I disagree somewhat with the eloquent defense of Schlieffen, since his plan (and it was a plan not just a sketch out-just read his Great Memorandum) is woefully inadequate in several respects, particularly the movement logistics of masses of infantry once they left the trains at railheads.This is the main reason I did not give the book 5 stars.With Schlieffen's pedantic approach it is amazing that logistics of long infantry marches on his time schedule were so neglected and that a possible British naval blockade was hardly mentioned. He considered Belgium (which was the causus belli for Britain) as a sort of a minor tactical obstacle whose army was negligible. On the other hand I loved this author's treatment of Moltke the Elder and the relationship of the independence of his subordinate commanders in 1870-71. Younger Moltke can be defended in modifying the Schlieffen Plan, as correctly pointed, out even though he should never have had top command in WWI because of age and state of health. The treatment of Frederick II the Great is some of the best I have seen as is the description of some of his commanders (i.e.in particular Ziethen and Seydlitz). The chapter on the Great Elector was very enlightening to me.I finally learned who Derfflinger was I knew about the battle cruiser of that name in Hipper's scouting fleet in WWI. I would have liked to see some more books by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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