Command Failure in War: Psychology and Leadership

Command Failure in War: Psychology and Leadership

by Philip Langer, Robert Pois


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Why do military commanders, most of them usually quite capable, fail at crucial moments of their careers? Robert Pois and Philip Langer—one a historian, the other an educational psychologist—study seven cases of military command failures, from Frederick the Great at Kunersdorf to Hitler’s invasion of Russia. While the authors recognize the value of psychological theorizing, they do not believe that one method can cover all the individuals, battles, or campaigns under examination. Instead, they judiciously take a number of psycho-historical approaches in hope of shedding light on the behaviors of commanders during war. The other battles and commanders studied here are Napoleon in Russia, George B. McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign, Robert E. Lee and Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, John Bell Hood at the Battle of Franklin, Douglas Haig and the British command during World War I, "Bomber" Harris and the Strategic Bombing of Germany, and Stalingrad.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253343789
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 05/12/2004
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.99(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert Pois (1940-2004) was Professor of History at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Among his books are The Great War; National Socialism and the Religion of Nature ; and Friedrich Meinecke and German Politics in the Twentieth Century.

Philip Langer is Professor of Educational Psychology and Faculty Fellow of the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Table of Contents

1. Frederick the Great at Kunersdorf, August 12, 1759
2. Napoleon in Russia, 1812
3. McClellan's Flawed Campaign: The Wounded Ego
4. Lee at Gettysburg: The Failure of Success
5. Franklin, Tennessee: The Wrong Enemy
6. Beyond Conventional Historical Explanations: The British Military in World War I
7. Winston Churchill, Arthur Harris, and British Strategic Bombing
8. Stalingrad: A Ghastly Collaboration between Hitler and His Generals

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Command Failure in War: Psychology and Leadership 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This scintillating and intriguing look at the mindset of great military leaders is not for the faint of heart or those looking for a quick read. Pois and Langer's prose reads like that of a beloved professor and mentor, a dialogue for the scholarly mind, bantering tidbits of history and human nature back and forth. The effort to explain how great men of history reached decisions and came to action drives the book; additionally, the writers also draw the reader through their thought processes. Each chapter provides original thinking and ideas. In short, this is a book best sipped rather than gulped.