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Kiev 1941 Hardcover – Jan 9 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 486 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (Jan. 9 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 110701459X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107014596
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.7 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 898 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #149,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"David Stahel has written a remarkable book. Not only is it the fullest English-language account of the Battle of Kiev, based on an expert knowledge of the records of the German formations directly involved, but it is also a stimulating attempt to put what appeared to be Hitler's greatest victory into the context of his eventual defeat."
Evan Mawdsley, author of Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War

"David Stahel's new book on the Battle of Kiev is a brilliant contribution to our knowledge of the German-Soviet war. Ranging widely over strategic debates within the high command, operational and tactical details of the fighting, the logistical situation behind the front, and industrial production at home, this is an essential book for any student of World War II. A major addition to the literature from a master scholar."
Robert M. Citino, author of Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942

"A fitting follow-on to Stahel's previous books, Kiev 1941 is a fresh, accurate, and authoritative volume. A thoroughly enjoyable read, it injects a healthy dose of realism into the history of this dramatic battle. Dismantling myths left and right, the book sets right one of the most significant stages of Operation Barbarossa."
David Glantz, author of Barbarossa Derailed: The Battle for Smolensk, 10 July-10 September 1941

"Building on his work in Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East, in Kiev 1941 David Stahel further highlights how German operational successes were no compensation for strategic miscalculation. [He] uses a rich mix of German archival and other sources to provide a comprehensive analysis of the battle from a German perspective - a valuable contribution to the literature."
Alexander Hill, author of The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, 1941-1945: A Documentary Reader

"Relying mainly on German sources, [Stahel] brings new evidence to bear on the conflict with the official war diaries of German divisions, as well as making good use of published editions of the private field-post letters and diaries of German soldiers of all ranks ... overall [he] conveys extremely complex military action with exemplary clarity."
Richard J. Evans The New Republic

"Most original ... a thoughtful and thought-provoking text."
Richard Overy, Literary Review

"[Stahel's] incisive survey cuts through much of the postwar myth making [and] shows mastery of the German sources ... Issues of logistics and command are leavened by valuable insights into the strategic miscalculations of Hitler and his high command and vivid use of veteran testimony."
Michael Jones, BBC History Magazine

"A dark story - two evil nations tearing each other's guts out - but, in Stahel's hands, a powerful and a necessary one as well. A highly recommended account."
Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly

"Like his previous book, Kiev 1941 is a magnificent work of historical revision, a first-rate example of how military history ought to be written."
The Weekly Standard

"... [a] seminal work ..."
Robert M. Citino, The Russian Review

"... [Stahel] makes extensive use of the diaries and letters of German soldiers as well as works by and about German generals and political figures like Hitler and Goebbels - there are about a hundred pages of endnotes and bibliography. Excellent maps and tables clarify the complex military operations ... in this most detailed English-language treatment of the Battle of Kiev, David Stahel furnishes ample evidence that, despite its Ukrainian victories in late September 1941, Germany remained ill prepared to defeat the USSR."
Walter G. Moss, Michigan War Studies Review

"Stahel provides vivid depictions of the Ostheer's growing 'demodernization' ... and convincingly shows that the victory in Ukraine was a result both of Hitler's insistence on turning his forces southwards and away from Moscow, and of Stalin's determination to hold on to Kiev despite the clear indications of a looming catastrophe."
Omer Bartov, Times Literary Supplement

"[Stahel's] writing is a good example of impartiality ... the book brings back the memory of yet another 'forgotten battle' to English and American readers."
Oleksandr Zinchenko, New Eastern Europe

"Stahel has written a well-balanced, often provocative ... book, which sheds much new light on our knowledge of the fighting around the capital of the Ukraine."
Martijn Lak, The Journal of Slavic Military Studies

"David Stahel's two masterful books Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East and Kiev 1941: Hitler's Battle for Supremacy in the East are superbly researched and well written, and provide the reader with an excellent oversight of the German operational planning process, and of the German units involved in the initial stage of the German invasion of the USSR."
Leo J. Daugherty, III, The Journal of Slavic Military Studies

Book Description

In 1941 the Wehrmacht wrought unprecedented destruction on the Red Army during one of the largest battles of World War II, conquering central Ukraine and killing or capturing three quarters of a million men. This 2011 book is an account of the battle and the high price Germany paid for victory.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Volk #1 REVIEWER#1 HALL OF FAME on April 4 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is a growing movement amongst those who study the Eastern Front to recognize that not only was it by far the most important theater in WW2, but that it's outcome was largely determined in 1941. To many, this might come as a surprise, given the emphasis on D-Day and its role in defeating the Germans. But well before then, well before even famous Stalingrad or Kursk, the German Wehrmacht was in serious trouble. Stahel outlines in this excellent book that this was apparent even during what is perhaps the most successful battle in history- the Battle for Kiev. Hundreds of thousands of Soviets were killed or captured during this battle. It would be a defeat that few militaries could withstand, yet the Soviets not only withstood it, they were able to make it a Pyrrhic victory for the Germans.

The book largely focuses on the German side of the conflict. Perhaps understandably, as there isn't as much to say about the static defensive strategies of the Soviets other than Stalin was his own worst enemy. Time and again his generals pleaded to be allowed to save their troops by withdrawing from the obviously precarious situation. Even with the Germans moving at a relative snail's pace, Stalin's stubbornness was solid and he allowed multiple Soviet armies to be encircled and annihilated. There are additional Soviet perspectives offered to give an idea of what was happening on the tactical scale, largely relating to the brutality of the conflict and the casualties being inflicted on both sides.

Those casualties were crucial and cast a great shadow over Germany's chances in the East. The book discusses in some depth the conflict amongst the German generals and Hitler who fought each other and amongst themselves over the correct course of actions.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every book I have read of Stahels has been a pleasure. Well written with great maps supplied by Glantz.
Anything released by Cambridge University Press is of high quality. I understand its an arduous process to
get a work published by them. They have very high standards..

Well done Mr. Stahel.
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This report describes in somber and analytical language the difficulties associated with the operation in the south that led to the capture of Kiev in the autumn of 1941 by the German Ostheer. The author makes a strong point that the battle, although operationally very successful, was strategically not able to bring the conflict any closer to a successful termination. Anybody interested in a detailed and differentiated account of the event from varying perspectives will not be disappointed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sae Ho Chun on Jan. 28 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It surprises me that historians cover very little of the battle of Kiev. It is, arguably, the German's greatest victory and deserves to be studied. Stahel's book is well-paced, interesting and balanced. Its been one-year since I read the book and is still in my mind today (which is actually why I'm writing a review about it).

The book should get its praises and deserves to be read.
Loved it and will be purchasing "Operation Typhoon" by the same author.

Shc
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Amazon.com: 47 reviews
69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Detailed Account of a Well Known but Little Analyzed Battle Jan. 2 2012
By WryGuy2 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Author David Stahel's book "Kiev 1941: Hitler's Battle for Supremacy in the East" is one of the few ... perhaps even only book in English ... to focus on the battle for Kiev in August - September 1941. I've always found this lack of a proper study of the battle to be surprising, given both the epic scale of the German victory/Soviet defeat and the fact that Hitler's decision to turn away from Moscow in August 1941 to deal with the Soviet armies around Kiev proved to be extremely controversial among his generals and historians of the war. In most works, this battle gets a few paragraphs at best before the run-up to Operation Typhoon, the German attempt to take Moscow.

The book opens with an analysis of the strategic situation for both sides (including contributions by the western Allies) and examines the economic realities for the Germans. He then covers the internal discussions/struggles (both for the Soviets and Germans) that led to the Battle for Kiev. He then shifts into the fighting that occurred from late August until early October 1941. But Mr Stahel doesn't just cover the fighting around Kiev, he covers the fighting over the entire Russian Front (less the fighting in Finland), which is a good decision, as it shows how the Germans were having to frantically juggle their ever diminishing forces to try and accomplish their goals. It also shows that the Soviets were far from passive, and were trying to smash the Germans with significant counteroffensives in front of Smolensk and other places, and the need for troops to defeat these Soviet attacks further strained German resources and depleted their forces.

The author takes the fighting through the liquidation of the final pocket at Kiev and ends with the German forces poised, more or less, to begin Operation Typhoon. I say "more or less" because the fighting was so prolonged and distances to be covered by the German armies so vast, that many of the attacking forces weren't in position at the beginning of this offensive. He also shows that while the Germans won a historic victory, it was as much a matter of Stalin refusing to listen to his military advisors and pull his forces back from Kiev in time as it was the Germans winning the battle outright.

The tenet of Mr Stahel's analysis is that the Wehrmacht was wearing itself out (both mechanically and in terms of blood) faster than it could be replenished during Operation Barbarossa, and that the war's turning point had basically already occurred by August 1941, when the Germans failed to crush the Soviets in a quick campaign, and were forced into a battle of attrition. In a way, this book also addresses some of the criticisms of his earlier work, "Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East", which asked how the Germans could have already lost the war when they later won several smashing victories yet in 1941 at Kiev and at the twin battles of Vyazma and Bryansk, as well as in 1942.

The book is fairly German-centric, and by that I mean Mr Stahel primarily uses German records and reports to show how the Germans were being ground down even as they continued to win victories. There is a good coverage from Soviet side, mind you, but most of the analysis and descriptions are from the German point of view, which is in line with his showing of the steady deterioration of the German forces. There are over 20 photographs as well as 13 maps, most of which are from fellow-historian David Glantz's atlas of maps from the war. While the photographs are good, I can't comment much on the maps, as I'm reviewing this book from my Kindle, and the maps aren't large enough to really see much detail. However, if you're read anything from David Glantz, you're familiar with the layout and quality of these maps, which are generally very good albeit with a few weaknesses.

As the author notes in his introduction, this book can be viewed as a continuation of his above-mentioned book or as a study on the Battle of Kiev. Mr Stahel has an interesting and succinct writing style, and he presents his arguments clearly and persuasively. While I don't entirely agree with him that the Germans had irrevocably lost the war on the eastern front by August/September of 1941 (I personally think the Germans had a window of opportunity into 1942 to win a favorable peace with the Soviets), I don't disagree with his analysis of what was happening to the Germans during this time frame. I greatly enjoyed this book and found his analysis well-done and it added to my understanding of what was happening during this part of the war in the east. Five stars.
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Thoughtful and detailed analysis of Hitler's greatest "success" Jan. 25 2012
By Writing Historian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What do readers familiar with the Eastern Front remember about Kiev? That it was a massive battle of encirclement that cost Stalin's armies 665,000 casualties. Stahel reminds us that the battle also probably cost 100,000 to 150,000 German casualties, hundreds of panzers, and thousands of irreplacable wheeled vehicles. Stahel's work is first rate because it sheds light on the battle by bringing to light a host of unexplored primary sources - in this case German records at division and corps level. Stahel's exhaustive research into the records of tactical formations rather than higher headquarters leads him to a different conclusion about this portion of Barbarossa than the German Military History Institute's own official account (which depends more heavily on the latter). Stahel's book deals with far more than the battle of Kiev, as he also examines German logistics, personality clashes between German generals (General Guderian, as noted by Russell Hart, seems to really have had a hard time getting along with his contemporaries), and the post-1940 campaign hubris of both Hitler and the Wehrmacht. I was surprised to read that the reason the Germans were not prepared for winter was because they had only produced enough winter uniforms for a 250,000 man occupation force rather than the 2 million plus soldiers who found themselves still fighting the bloody but unbowed Soviet Army outside Moscow as the snows began. I found myself in sympathy with the German soldiers whose contemporary letters were quoted by the author. It is clear that those men went into Russia full of confidence having beaten the vaunted French Army in six weeks. As the realization set in that they would not defeat the Russians before winter, they began to believe that their war would never end. For many of them, that dread premonition would turn out to be true. The book is organized into ten chapters, starting with two entitled "The bulldog, the eagle, and the bear" and "Germany's defeat in the East" which ostensibly provide the framework for the operational narrative to follow. Chapter 2 - "Germany's defeat in the East" was the only chapter in the book that I had a little bit of trouble following the author's narrative. I thought Stephen Fritz's "Ostkrieg" explained the situation and events with a bit more clarity. The remaining chapters are entitled "The Road to Kiev," "War in the Ukraine," "Ominous Horizons," "The battle of Kiev," "Slaughter in the Ukraine," "Visions of Victory," "The calm before the storm," and "Moscow in the Crosshairs." In the last chapter Stahel convincingly argues that although Kiev was a victory for the Germans, it came at such a cumulative price that they had no chance of taking Moscow. A brief conclusion starts at page 345, with notes, bibliography, and index taking up the remainder (113 pages or a bit more than a quarter of the book). The maps are taken from Glantz and are adequate. I felt there could have been a few more photos, but the ones that appeared were also adequate. Highly recommended.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A followup book of why the Germans would lose the war. Jan. 13 2012
By Dave Schranck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Mr Stahel's new book is an addendum to his earlier "Barbarossa". It has the same style and format of the first book but with an extension of content. The author felt compelled to write this book to fortify his arguments of his first book. Old ground from "Barbaroosa" is renewed then new material on the Smolensk sector is added. To further enhance his position, Guderian's march south, Rundstedt's drive east and Kleist's advance northward to join up near Kiev to trap Kirponos's Front is then covered. The difficult crossing of the southern Dnepr near Dnepropetrovsk will also be included as well as the troubles in the Leningrad sector for this time period. The author is covering all his bases in presenting his arguments.
Like the author's first book, this book has as its predominate theme the command decisions of Hitler, Germany's industrial shortcomings that couldn't adequately supply the front lines, the confusion and discord that was engendered within the German command structure that had terrible consequences for the Germans. He will provide many more examples of the losses the Germans endured in fighting this "successful period" of the war against a relentless foe. If you still weren't convinced after reading "Barabarossa" of Germany's lack of ability to win the war then you should read "Kiev 1941"; there is much more to consider.

Drilling down some, the key points that were brought out in the first volume are reestablished here: The Russians, despite being unprepared and poorly led were able to slow the Blitzkrieg along the Dnepr. Though Hitler made the right choice is sending Guderian to Kiev, much of his overall strategy was haphazard and random. Also playing large is the cowboy tactics of Guderian who cared only for the victories of his 2nd PzG no matter the consequences to AGC. The friction between Bock and Guderian is continued as 2nd PzG advances toward Kiev. Halder's shortsighted and poor planning of Barbarossa plus his impact over the arguments of the Moscow first strategy are also covered. Hitler's overall negative impact on the war effort is frequently visited. Stalin and his obduracy at Kiev is given good mention as well. Mr Stahel uses his vast knowledge of archival material to good use in these areas.
The author points out a number of Guderian events that appeared favorable in the short run but turned out poorly for AGC in the long run. Last but certainly not least that despite the outward appearance of a highly successful advance in the opening weeks, the Russians were inflicting too many casualties on men and machines which the Wehrmacht could not afford or sustain. The Germans were winning battles but losing the war.
Also mentioned: By the end of September and clearly by the end of December when Churchill, FDR and Stalin, the leaders of the three greatest economic powers in the world joined forces, Germany had little chance to win a long war of attrition. That position would be bolstered with the successful counter-offensive in front of Moscow.

I gave this book five stars for the author did a good job of covering material that was within the purview of the book but I have to mention my disappointment for the brief tactical battlefield coverage and analysis that was provided on the Kiev march and encirclement. I knew this book would not be like a Glantz, Zamulin or Nipe book but the series of events that took place in August and September in the Smolensk and Kiev sectors were gargantuan, with far reaching tactical impact and I was hoping the author would add greater depth and a little more excitement to his tactical coverage of Hitler's "greatest victory". Though some of this material will be new for many of us, much of this material can be read elsewhere but the melding of the individual parts of the two books into a coherent thread of thought was appreciated. Though enjoying both books and having gained an appreciation of Mr Stahel's abilities, I would have wished that the material in both books could have been included in just one book. The considerable duplication could have been avoided and the sequencing and organization of material could have been more succinct, making it easier to follow and understand for the new reader.
I will comment on one issue that the author brings up that refutes earlier authors. Its been said by others that Guderian's advance to Kiev was relatively quick and easy and that Eremenko's attempt to stop the Germans went poorly. Though Guderian did reach his objective, his forces suffered heavy casualties and the advance was difficult due to poor logistics, bad road conditions and hard fighting. Also, Guderian had to go back to Bock for reinforcements several times. In the end, his men were exhausted and his vehicles in need of repair and with Operation Typhoon coming up in early October, there would be no real time to recover. The Red Air Force was also more effective in destroying German equipment than what is generally known.

Mr Stahel did a nice job of incorporating many first hand accounts to supplement his narrative. Using communiques and personal, divisional and corps diary entries, the author bolstered key points of his narrative that in many cases also showed the personal side of war.
The brief but succinct Conclusion sums up the war conditions by the end of September and includes how the weaken Wehrmacht will have a difficult time with Operation Typhoon and the taking of Moscow. The author repeatedly shows the strategic weaknesses of insufficient industrial output and manpower. The author also shows the Germans making the same mistakes that over time would cost them dearly. The combined knowledge in both books gives the new or casual reader a big step forward in learning the pros and cons about Hitler's war doctrine, his country and his war machine during the early stage of the war.

Also provided are 13 b&w maps that were created by David Glantz. The style is similar to the maps in "Barbarossa". The maps are very good, highly detailed that show the deployments and course of the battle but some of us will need a magnifying glass to study them carefully. There are also 21 photos. The Notes Section and Bibliography are exemplary and will be of great help if further research is required. An Order of Battle for AGC but not AGS or the Soviets is provided??

I must stress again that while this book is praiseworthy from the strategic perspective and though there are examples of tactical history, this is not a David Glantz equivalent that chronicles in detail the tactical history of a campaign. While a few tactical events like a town falling or a division crossing a river by a certain date are briefly mention, this brief glimpse is not the main theme of the book but only used to give the reader a chronological reference or to point out either a German mistake or an event that cost the Germans dearly through Soviet intervention. The main theme is to convince the reader that Germany, having suffered relatively high casualties in men and machines in these opening months, failed to defeat Russia while she was vulnerable and therefore wouldn't be able to defeat Russia in a long war of attrition.

Mr Stahel's premise for both of his books is that the war will unfold exactly as it did and that the heavy cost in men, panzers, materiale and time of the Smolensk campaign plus the poor state of maintenance of the German heavy equipment at the end of the campaign as well as the low state of morale of the Wehrmacht will be the foundation for how the war will proceed. Coupled to this battlefield scenario is the fact that the German industrial capacity was insufficient to poduce enough panzers, submarines, planes, vehicles etc nor produce enough oil to run those machines or have a sufficently large enough pool of men to replace the large attrition rate to defeat the Russians.
His position does not allow for alternative history to change the outcome of the war. Hitler made many mistakes tactically, strategically as well as industrially that if those errors had never been made could have had a dramatic effect on the war but Mr Stahel doesn't include these possibilities in his equations. To do so would be to elevate his book to a whole new dimension, something like Mr Mercatante's "Why Germany Nearly Won" and that was clearly laid out in the author's "Barbarossa" book as not an avenue he wanted to take.

By writing this second book, Mr Stahel did a good job in bolstering his original position that despite the early victories, the German Army by Sept 1941 with its relatively deep irreplaceable losses in men, vehicles and panzers had lost its ability to win a drawn out war with the Soviets. Mr Stahel provides additional information on the Smolensk sector before expanding the battle zone to include the Kiev sector and even a glimpse into Army Group North's struggle with taking Leningrad and how it impacted AGC. The author also includes coverage of some of the troubles the Army Groups endured in preparing for Operation Typhoon and the non battle costs that the panzer groups paid for executing Hitler's Directive 34 (moving to the flanks). The amount of additional material presented certainly adds to the author's position while giving the reader an interesting strategic overview of this critical period that will have direct important ramifications to the war in the months ahead and indirectly to the years to come.

I know the specter of defeat for the Germans is more noticeable at Moscow 1941, Stalingrad 1942 or Kursk 1943 but the author strives to find the most earliest timeframe, the ultimate earliest time when the Germans lost the potential to win the war and then explains his position. It will take a leap of faith for some of us to accept his argument but the author's two books are fascinating and are still worthy reads.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Quite well done even though not tightly focused on the Battle of Kiev March 3 2012
By Koba - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Another reviewer gave this book two stars because it has a poor title. I agree that the book is not tightly focused on its ostensible subject, the Battle for Kiev. In fact, the battle itself occupies a mere two chapters of 67 pages out of the 354 page total. The first 205 pages are "throat-clearing" -- a description of the war from June through September 1941 that duplicates a lot of what Stahel said in his previous book (as Dave Schrank said in his review, it's too bad this book and Stahel's previous book couldn't have been combined into one book). The final 80 pages describe the aftermath of the Battle for Kiev up to (but not including) the assault on Moscow, Operation Typhoon. I am somewhat of two minds about this. On the one hand, I would certainly criticize him if he didn't put the battle into its proper context within Barbarossa. On the other hand, I feel there was a bit too much context and aftermath relative to the amount of ostensible actual subject. I would say that a book about the Battle for Kiev should be more than 20 percent about the battle and 80 percent about "everything else"; if anything those proportions should be reversed. However, I certainly didn't think the whole thing was poorly done, and therefore I have to give it four stars rather than two.

The purpose of the book is to answer a question that emerged from his previous book in which he argued that Barbarossa had failed in August 1941 because Germany's armored forces had been greatly depleted. If that was so, then how were the Germans able to obtain the great victories at Kiev and then drive to the gates of Moscow? He shows that German victory at Kiev was not smooth or preordained, and came at a significant cost in German casualties as well as attrition in vehicles and equipment. The Germans needed to rest and prepare for the drive on Moscow, but could not do this while liquidating the Kiev salient as well as returning to the north over appalling roads. As other reviewers have noted, Stahel focuses on German logistics, which is received much less attention than it deserves. Whether or not you agree with his conclusions, his analysis deserves close attention.

Another criticism I have about this book are the maps. Evidently they were chosen because they were available, having already been made by David Glantz. There are nine maps that do not address the Battle for Kiev, and four maps that do. Again, this shows the lack of focus on the supposed subject of the book. By the time I saw the fourth map of the Battle of Yelnya, I had to ask, how many maps of the Battle of Yelnya does a book about the Battle of Kiev really need? Moreover, the book lacked the very necessary maps to support the narrative of Guderian's drive south and the Soviet efforts to stop him. Finally, the maps of the Kiev pocket, like the rest of the maps in the book, were small and had such miniscule writing they were incredibly hard to follow. I needed a magnifying glass, or maybe stronger glasses.

For all that this book is "really" an examination of Germany's strategic situation in September 1941 rather than "just" a detailed study of the Battle for Kiev, it is well worth reading and I recommend it. We may hope that Stahel will next focus on the Battles of Bryansk/Vyazma and Operation Typhoon itself.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great book very well researched and written out and in great detail April 14 2012
By D. Popov - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book very well researched and written out and in great detail. The reason why I did not give it 5 stars is that the book concentrates a little too much on the intrigues within the German General Stuff and less on the actual combat operations. Other than that the book is excellent.


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