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The Nazi Field Marshalls & Generals

A non-American perspective on World War II.    Liddell Hart's interviews with German generals immediately after WW II ended provides the reader with a essential perspective from inside the defeated military command.   The author candidly calls Hitler "too brilliant" a strategist when criticising the traditional Allied view that all Germany's mistakes were Hitler's and all her success were due to the German generals.   Hart points out the political ineptitude of the German generals when assessing their military prowess.    Politics are not divorced from military affairs in this study.    The superb blend of Eisenhower's political skills and solid military judgement is contrasted with the utter failure of the German military to address political issues in the Reich.   Hart lets the vanquished foes tell their own stories in an easy to read narrative form.   He allows the German perspective to point out strengths and weaknesses in the British, American, and Russian militaries.   An example is the German disregard of any threat of allied invasion along the French Bay of Biscay coastline because they correctly judged the Allied invasion of the European continent would never be carried out outside of the range of air cover.   An easy read with some of the great minds that opposed the allies in World War II.   Never pretentious or overloaded with unit designations or historical snobbery.   A straight forward view from the "other side of the hill" that is presented to help the allied military and the lay reader learn from history.

Personal war memoir of Hitler's most outstanding general.    Erich Von Manstein played a part in planning some of Nazi Germany's most stunning military triumphs, from the technically brilliant "Sichselschnitt" plan that destroyed the French Army in May of 1940, to the bloody Crimean Campaign of 1942.   Manstein's book is that of a professional military officer.   He devotes a great deal of time to explaining the mechanics of planning an executing military strategy.   His character portraits of his military colleagues lack the punch that a more independent military writer would give them; even his analysis of Adolf Hitler as a military commander is somewhat colourless.    The one personal touch in the book is Manstein's account of the death of his son, fighting as a junior officer in a unit under his command.

Midwest Book Review
Inside Hitler's Headquarters provides a personal history of World War II as seen by the deputy chief of operations at the center of Nazi power during 1939-41.   The attention to first-person experiences, philosophy, and observations lends much personal value to the story and brings alive military perceptions and insights not normally contained in histories of the period. Recommended for any in-depth study of Nazi history.
Or, how not to fight a war.   General Warlimont was Jodl's Deputy Chief of Operations and at the heart of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (Supreme Command), from 1939 until he was injured by Stauffenburg's bomb in 1944.   He actually drafted most of the operational plans emanating from OKW and therefore is uniquely qualified to comment on the military dimension of that vast criminal enterprise that was the Third Reich.
With his cool professional's eye he assesses the leading figures of the OKW: the demonic Fuhrer, as fascinating and dangerous as a snake, the loyal, amoral Jodl, the execrable toady Keitel.   Of particular interest to students of military history is Warlimont's exposition of Hitler's "generalship", which repeatedly revealed its amateurish inadequacies in rash decision-making and arrogant disregard of expert opinion.

The safeguarding of historic art treasures.    Albert Kesselring was the commander of German forces in Italy during World War 2, but his memoirs cover his entire military service, from
pre-WW1 through WW2.   He waxes nostalgic on the friendly pre-WW1 relations between the German troops stationed near France, and the ladies across the border.   His discussion of the post-WW1 period focuses largely on the circumstances of his transfer from the army to the air force.   An intermediate amount of coverage is given to the early WW2 period, with the latter part of the war in Italy dominating the memoirs, much as it dominated his career.
Hauptsturmfuhrer Otto Skorzeny (the commando leader who freed Mussolini) commented in his own memoirs about his differences in methodology from those of Kesselring, and Kesselring takes this opportunity to provide his side of the matter.   In addition, Kesselring discusses why he was chosen as the commander most uniquely qualified to serve as a liaison with the Italians.   Several sections cover the important steps he took to preserve historic art treasures in the midst of the destruction of war, and his views on the criminal nature of guerillas who disguise themselves as civilians in violation of the Geneva Convention.

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