countdown boutiques-francophones Learn more vpcflyout Furniture All-New Kindle Music Deals Store sports Tools

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on January 31, 2003
Studying this book one gets the distinct impression that some of the most acclaimed military men in history were gamblers with a lucky streak or in other words very successful thieves, who solved their own supply problems by stealing it.
That is how Napoleon did it while he was winning, but when he organized his own supply for the Russian campaign he lost. Likewise the Prussian general staff got a reputation for perfect planning while in the field the army operated by chaotic requisition. The Schlieffen plan was unworkable from the start, Patton won by stealing from his neighbor units and ignoring the supply bureaucrats and Rommel overextended himself without a chance of winning ...
Interesting perspectives that give lot of food for thought - even if they may be somewhat biased. For example when Creveldt blames the German general stuff for not preparing the Russian campaign properly he claims that Hitler 's decisions made sense ....
It is a pity that the book stops in 1944; Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf war would be very interesting by comparison.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 6, 2002
Martin Van Creveld provides an interesting overview of how logistics influenced the outcome of miltitary operations. The first part of the book deatils warfare during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the armies had to keep advancing in order in replemish their supplies. If the army stayed in the same area over a large amount of time such as Napoleon's army in Moscow, than the army would run out of supplies. This situation did not change during the Franco-Prussian War in which the Prussian army had to scrounge for food at the outskirts of Paris. All though food remained a problem for the armies there was always a plentiful supply of ammunition since armies of the 18th and 19th centuries expended very little of it. Martin Van Creveld makes some surprising claims in the later part of the book describing twentieth century warfare. Martin Van Creveld believes that the Schlieffen Plan was doomed to failure because of the logistical constraints of the German army. Because most of supplies delivered to the German army were by rail, the desturuction of the railways impeded their advance. Also German planners made no plans to deal with the massive traffic jams in Belgum. The next chapter Van Creveld has an revisionist appraisal of the Germany invasion of Russia in 1941. Van Creveld believes that Germany had the supplies to deal with winter warfare but the inability to transport them across Russia. Due to the difference between German and Russian rail tracks and maintance problems of German engines the supplies never reached the front. Van Creveld strongly criticizes Rommel's handling of the North Africam campaign. Rommel advance to far for his supplies to be replenished. The problem of supply duirng the North African War was that the supplies had to be delivered by trucks that were highly vulnerable to air attack. When Rommel tried to solve the problem by taking Tobruk, he only made matters worse. The ships that arrived at Tobruk were in range of Allied aircraft and as a result sunk. The final Chapter, Van Creveld evaluates Allied operations in Western Europe. Van Creveld believes that Patton's success had to due with the fact that Patton ignored logistic officer's plan for a slow a orderly pace but instead took advantage of the situation to advance quickly. Van Creveld theorizes that Montgomery's narrow front approach could have logistically reached Northwest Germany but were have not captured Berlin. I would highly reccomend this book for anyone who wants a new and interesting perspective about operations during the First and Second World Wars.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 8, 2001
This is really a number of books in one. It is not very long some 240 pages but it is easy to read and challenging. It is the first book that I have ever seen published on logistics and it is fascinating.
First and foremost it is a picture of the changing pattern of war. It describes in the first chapter the sorts of campaigns which were run until the time of Napoleon. In those days ammunition would be the most minor problem for an army. Most soldiers could carry enough ammunition in their back pack for a campaign and in a major battle they would fire perhaps twenty or thirty times. In a siege a cannon might fire four or five times a day. The major problem was the provision of food for men and horses. Generally an army could take from the country enough to feed itself. Problems arose if an army stayed in place for any time. A siege would have the power to destroy an area of country by stripping it of everything edible. For these reason there developed a system of magazine storage for siege campaigns.
The next chapter discusses the Napoleonic period and the failure to set up a logistics system in Russia despite careful planning. This led to enormous French casualties and the collapse of the campaign.
The rest of the book looks at the Franco-Prussian War, the Schlieffen Plan , the German operations on the Eastern Front in the Second World War, the African Campaign and the operations in France following the break out from the initial beach heads. In discussing these campaigns the author charts the gradual change in logistics. The development of railway systems and integrating them into providing supplies. The development of modern weapons and the increase in the demand for ammunition and for fuel. The importance of motorised transport and the problems created in providing oil and spare parts.
Each of the campaigns discussed is done so in a way that brings new light onto the mechanics of the campaign and in our ability to understand what happened. The Russian campaign is fascinating as it shows how tough was the problem faced by the Germans. They were able to cobble together large numbers of trucks to supply their troops but were never in the position to replace them once they began to wear out. The amount of ammunition stockpiled was also barely enough for a campaign of four weeks. The German effort in doing as well as they did was incredible but once the Soviets were able to hang on through the initial period then the odds started to swing their way. Germany's supply problems were shown by their in ability to supply winter uniforms and this led to massive casualties from frost bite.
One of the most fascinating chapters is on Rommel and his campaigns. The material in the book has been quoted elsewhere. In previous times it has been thought that Rommel failed in Africa because of the allies intercepted supply conveys and sunk material on route. The book shows that supplies to Africa were not the problem. The problem in supplying Rommel related moving those supplies the enormous distances to the front. The book suggests that the German High Command knew that this would be a problem and they ordered Rommel to restrict any advances. As we know he disobeyed these orders and won a number of significant victories against the British. What the book shows is that although a tactical genius he had little grasp of strategy.
The book is fascinating and everyone who is interested in the subject of military history should read it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 22, 2000
An excellent work - hard to improve on the comments of the other reviewers who note many of the fine qualities of this work.
One point not previously made was that the period of time chosen was not accidental. From Wallenstein on, we began to see what we conceive of as relatively modern armies (that is armies with a command component, teeth or the sharp fighting end, and a tail or supporting component) which had to fight over more than one season. Van Creveld, an excellent historian, covers all of these notions carefully with copious notes. A great work for the serious and specialist reader but should also appeal to the military history buff.
I wish that the work were revised in light of Vietnam, the Arab-Israeli War, The Falklands War, and most of all, the Iraqi War. These were relatively shorter wars, and the problems were not one of production or foraging but using the already accumulated stocks effectively. The contraction of time means that choosing wrong (wrong weapons, wrong fuel stocks, wrong plan of distribution) are more profound. There may not be time politically to correct mistakes.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 22, 2000
The sheer volume of customer reviews for a book on such a seemingly arcane topic as the history of logistics gives you an idea of how surprisingly thought provoking van Crevald's book is. As van Crevald describes how army after army "hit the wall" for lack of supplies, the reader realizes how crucial logistics are to the understanding and successful conduct of military operations. Along the way, a number of popular myths are put to bed as to why certain historical strategic decisions were made.
Example: A common misconception is that if Erwin Rommel had been given enough men and material he would have beaten the Britsh in North Africa, but the German High Command was too pre-occupied with the campaign in Russia. Van Crevald points out that another German General, Ritter von Thoma, had surveyed the North African ports and road system before Rommel had even arrived and concluded (correctly) that no more than 4 mechanized divisions could be practically supported with the local infrastructure. Since Rommel operated with 7 divisions, including the Italian ones, he suffered a chronic supply shortage during his offensives, even though there was often an abundance of material sitting on the dock in Tripoli 600 miles to his rear. If Rommel, a master of tactics, had done his logistical homework, he would have realized that his existing force structure could not sprint all the way to Egypt while trying to breath through a 1000-mile long straw and be in any sort of condition to fight a decisive battle once he got there. Too late, Rommel himself realized "the battle is fought and decided by the quartermaster before the shooting begins".
Van Crevald's book is full of such insights. Now, as I read other accounts of military operations, I try to visualize that invisible but dominant logistical tether reining in the scope of the possible. A thought provoking book indeed.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Traditional books on military history provide only a superficial study of the role logistics played in history's most noted campaigns. In Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton, Martin Van Creveld examines war from a much deeper logistical perspective, offering a fascinating new view on the lessons to be learned from these campaigns.
After an introductory chapter on the logistics of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Van Creveld analyzes Napoleon's success against Austria in 1805 and his failure against Russia in 1812. This chapter explores the use of magazines and the common practice of "living off of the land." Successive chapters explore the use of horse-drawn convoys by the Prussians in the late 1800's, the use of trains by the Germans in World War I, and the "modern" logistical planning of the Allies in Europe during World War II. The common approach to each period is the attempt to determine how the success or failure of the logistics planning influenced the leader's ability to execute his strategic plan.
Most impressive about this book is the volume of detailed research that Van Creveld accomplished in preparing to write it. The bibliography documents the use of more than 300 sources, including original working papers and notes from the actual planning of the wars studied. The use of actual source documents allows Van Creveld to draw unique conclusions, unbiased by traditional military writings.
Supplying War appears on the Commandant's Reading List and other lists of recommended reading for military professionals. It gives leaders a solid historical perspective on the need to support the warriors they lead into battle. While it can in no way be considered "light reading", Supplying War is an essential part of any good military leader's library.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 24, 1999
At first glance, the method of commenting and explaining the complex matter of military logistics trough a very limited number of specific examples (Wallenstein and Patton, but also Napoleon and Hitler's Russian Campaigns in beetween... and some others)may seem ineffective. Logistics are a matter wich has proven hard to grasp even to some great field commanders (Rommel, to say one) so it is difficult to study it through easy , almost textbook examples, using very limited mathemathics (if you passed primary school exams, you can tackle them). Yet this book does. It does not explain a general theory of logistics : it shows there' s not a general theory, only partial models useful in a special historical and technological situation. And it does not tell it to you through the marketing-style tables you'd expect, but through almost annedotic examples,fun to read and fun to ponder. Did you know almost all the bullets Napoleon's Army carried in the campaign to Wien remained unfired ? And that in the same campaign problems arised from shortage of bread... and from his Marshall's disobedience ? L' Empereur had ordered his front line cavalry squadrons to take supplies only from the (more or less willing) villages on one side of the road, to leave the other side for those coming behind. He was simply not obeyed, and this caused supplying havoc afterwards. And Hitler would perhaps not have attacked Russia, if he only attempted the simple calculations shown in this book, showing he simply had not enough fuel and trucks. Read it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 4, 1999
I was amazed at the "tail" pre-Napoleon armies had. The words "Supply & Transport" were almost on every other page in some form. The WWII German Army was not all that mechanized as other books would have you believe. Magazines were just early War Readiness Material(WRM). Early 20th century wargamers either did not crunch or factor the numbers or just ignored them. Although the author portrays Gen. Patton as talking to G-4 types only twice I think his study of ancient battles gave him the insight to logistics or the new buzz word "Supplychain Mangement" as opposed to Rommel who either did not grasp logistic factors or was deliberately set up with a logistic nightmare to get him out of the way using the Italian Army as the fall guys and him as the scapegoat. I would be anxious to read the author's writings on Naval and Air Logistics.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 30, 1999
I never realized the importance of supplies in war and the difficulty in obtaining them. Not just food, ammunition, POL, and equipment, but the small over looked things that are critical.
The book touches on a wide range of topics and is a must for the student of military history. For example the author covers baking of bread for 17th+18th century armies, the effects of weather (freezing rivers), the use of trains (you can't just dump supplies off a train, you need a depot).
Its a little dry, but worth reading and inexpensive as well.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 11, 2000
Seriously, this was one of the most mind boggling books that I have ever read. Having read Keegan and military strategists from Machiavelli to Thomas Schelling, I never realized that THE most crucial factor as for wins and losses for battles and wars is getting food and materiel to your men. Van Crevald, really, here, writes a tour-de-force that should be a must read for any politican, public policy official, OR student of miliary history because it changes perspective entirely as to how one views battles and wars.....
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items