Book Review: The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front by Peter Barton

The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front by Peter Barton is one of the most visually stunning books about WWI I have ever read.  This work is more than just a history of British participation on the Western Front.  It makes use of officially produced trench panoramas to illuminate conditions of trench warfare better than almost any other pictorial record of WWI I have run across. The book itself is 358 pages in length with a bibliography, picture credits, list of further reading, and index.  In addition, and one of the things that makes this book outstanding it includes two CD-ROMs that contain … More after the Jump…

Book Review: To the Gates of Stalingrad by David Glantz

David Glantz’s To the Gates of Stalingrad is the first of a three book trilogy that catalogs the intense German-Soviet battle for Stalingrad in 1942-43. The book details the failed Soviet offensive toward Kharkov in spring 1942, the German spring offensive (Fall Blau, or Case Blue), and the German 6th Army advance to Stalingrad. The book is in line with Glantz’s other works that attempt to prove his common thesis: that the Eastern Front was the decisive theater of the World War II. The book represents Glantz’s unmatched ability to chronicle the battles for the Eastern Front from strategic, all the way to the tactical level. One paragraph might detail … More after the Jump…

D-Day 73rd Anniversary

This is an annual tradition at Battles and Book Reviews.  This year is the 73rd anniversary of the Allied Landings at Normandy in France during WWII. Just a reminder for everyone to stop today and take a moment to reflect on the events that happened 68 years ago today on the shores of Normandy in France.  This year, the text of General Dwight Eisenhower’s message to the troops of the Allied invasion force the morning of the invasion. Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are … More after the Jump…

Book Review: An Iron Wind-Europe Under Hitler by Peter Fritzsche

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Peter Fritzsche’s book An Iron Wind-Europe Under Hitler is “new history” of the best sort.  Instead of being a war book about battles and campaigns it tries to capture the experience of World War II of the people of Europe.  How did the average civilian who the fighting swirled past and who lived under German occupation experience the war?  That is the question this book tries to answer and does a good job of doing so. First, the numbers.  There … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Devil’s General: The Life of Hyazinth Graf von Strachwitz, “The Panzer Graf” by Raymond Bagdonas

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] There are numerous biographies of German officers and soldiers from World War II and The Devil’s General: The Life of Hyazinth Graf von Strachwitz, “The Panzer Graf” by Raymond Bagdonas is yet another. I cannot quite make up my mind if this is a good book or not. I lean towards yes but something is lacking to make this a truly great biography. The numbers; there are 338 pages of text making up an introduction, 23 chronological chapters and 6 appendices. … More after the Jump…

D-Day 72nd Anniversary

This is an annual tradition at Battles and Book Reviews.  This year is the 72nd anniversary of the Allied Landings at Normandy in France during WWII. Just a reminder for everyone to stop today and take a moment to reflect on the events that happened 68 years ago today on the shores of Normandy in France.   This is the day that the Allies opened up the long-awaited Second Front against Hitler’s Germany.   The invasion took place along almost 50 miles of French coast using five named invasion beaches.   From south to north the beaches were named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.   The first days objectives … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Great Northern War Compendium edited by Steve Kling

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] The Great Northern War Compendium is a massive two-volume work that covers just about everything you ever wanted to know about the Great Northern War (assuming you have ever heard of this obscure to English speakers war), and probably some that you don’t. Some stats.  The two volumes together comprise 660 pages consisting of over 70 articles arranged in chronological order from the wars beginning in 1700 to its conclusion in 1721.  Each volume has an index and in addition there … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–-1945 by Nicholas Stargardt

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] There have been thousands if not hundreds of thousands of books written about World War II and Germany since 1945. There have even been social histories written in the seemingly never ending attempts to fathom how a nation like Germany supported Hitler and his murderous regime. The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–-1945 seeks to explain not the how, but the what. As in what was it like under the Nazis and what did the average German see and feel. … More after the Jump…

The Battle of the River Plate

The Battle of the River Plate was the first naval battle of World War II and the only battle of World War II to take place in South America or its waters.  The Graf Spee was one of three Deutschland Class “pocket battleships” built by the Germans in the interwar period to get around treaty restrictions imposed after World War I.  The three ships were the Deutschland, Admiral Scheer, and Admiral Graf Spee.  All three ships were to be destroyed during the course of the war. The ship was designate to act as a commerce raider and was at sea when the war began.  After getting new orders she began … More after the Jump…

D-Day 71st Anniversary

Just a reminder for everyone to stop today and take a moment to reflect on the events that happened 68 years ago today on the shores of Normandy in France.   This is the day that the Allies opened up the long-awaited Second Front against Hitler’s Germany.   The invasion took place along almost 50 miles of French coast using five named invasion beaches.   From south to north the beaches were named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.   The first days objectives were not reached over most of the front and in many places it would take weeks to reach objectives that were supposed to have been taken … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Waterloo: Book One of the Great Battles Series by Alan Forrest

Waterloo: Book One of the Great Battles Series by Alan Forrest is not your typical military history. Therefore it is a good thing that the author admits in the preface that he is not a military historian because it shows. If you expect a book called Great Battles to be about the itself then prepare to be disappointed because this book is not so much about Waterloo as its aftermath./ First the book itself. It is 180 pages of text divided into 9 roughly thematic chapters including an introduction and postscript. There is a list of figures, list of maps, notes, bibliography and an index. This is not a campaign … More after the Jump…

The Battle of Berlin – 16 April – 2 May, 1945

Throughout 1944 the German armies on the Eastern Front had been pushed westward across Poland and into Germany proper.  During the winter of 1944-1945 the front had stabilized roughly along the river Oder and inside historically German territory.  In front of Berlin three Russian Fronts (1st & 2nd Byelorussian plus 21st Ukrainian) faced two greatly understrength German Army Groups (Army Group Vistula & Army Group Center).  A Russian Front and German Army Group are roughly synonymous units within the army structure although at this point in the war German Army Groups were pretty much army groups in name only often being the size of reinforced Corps or even divisions due … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Revenge of Geography by Robert D. Kaplan

In line with my current grad program pursuing an MA in International relations I have been reading a lot of books about current or semi current events. The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert Kaplan is one of these books.  The book is an examination of geopolitics.  That is, it takes a look at politics through the lens of geography.  The thesis being that while regimes may change the places people live and the terrain of those places generally does not and thus to a large extent geography has a somewhat deterministic effect on politics.  This is actually a … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Death Dealer-The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolph Höss

In my office at home I have one shelf on my bookshelf full of books with sticky tabs on the back indicating that I want to read them but have not yet found the time.  When I get the chance I take one down and read it.  Some are books I have had for years and some are new.  This is one of those books. I think like every aspiring historian, I went through a WWII phase in my youth where I read every book about WWII and all its aspects I could find.  Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolph Höss has sat on my … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Ring of Steel by Alexander Watson

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I does for the Germany and Austria-Hungary what Niall Ferguson’s The Pity Of War did for the Allies in WWI.  It explains the war through the lens of the people that participated both at home and at the front and explores the ways in which the experience of war shaped the perception of the war and led to the dissolution of both empires. The book itself is a hefty tome at first … More after the Jump…