World War I has inspired a vast mythology of bravery and carnage that has fascinated readers for decades. Now acclaimed military historian John Mosier demystifies the strategic and tactical aspects to explain that, contrary to the standard military history accounts, Germanys military culture provided them with the advantage. Their war machine succeeded against more powerful Allied armies until, in both wars, it was crushed by U.S. intervention. Through simliarly stunning revelations, Mosier forces a reevaluation of the reasons behind the French withdrawal, the Russian contribution, and Hitler as a military thinker. The result of thirty years of research, Cross of Iron is a powerful, riveting, and authoritative recasting of the legends of modern European warfare.
Mosier is a professor of English who has developed a second career writing on the world wars (The Blitzkreig Myth). Here he credits the German army's operational effectiveness in two world wars to leadership, doctrine and, above all, institutional memory. The Germans addressed many of modern warfare's fundamental problems in WWI. They built on their experience during the years between the wars, integrating new technologies as they emerged. Quickness of reaction and speed of execution in a framework of combined arms tactics gave the Wehrmacht temporary mastery of Europe in 1939-1942. Though the overall thesis is less original than Mosier recognizes, he presents it in smooth, economical prose, incorporating a number of thought provoking insights and hypotheses. He challenges the familiar allegation that the Wehrmacht neglected logistics and, conversely, demonstrates that German technological superiority is a myth. He credits Hitler's "evil genius" with providing the political and strategic insight that structured Germany's victories until his audacity devolved into randomness. Mosier pitilessly establishes the Wehrmacht's comprehensive complicity in the Third Reich's crimes, but is better at describing than explaining it. Within its limits, this is a stimulating overview of a war machine incorporating both outstanding capacities and tragic flaws. (June 6)
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Henry Holt and Co.
May 27, 2006
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