Manstein: Hitler%E2%80%99s Greatest General

Mungo Melvin. St. Martin%E2%80%99s/Dunne, $37.50 (656p) ISBN 978-0-312-56312-7
Forget Rommel: Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, largely unknown to Americans because he served mainly on the Eastern Front, was the exemplar of Germany’s military genius and self-delusion in WWII, according to this sweeping biography. Melvin, senior directing staff (Army) of the Royal College of Defense Studies in London, styles Manstein as a foresighted military intellectual and gifted improviser whose feats, from authoring the armored thrust through the Ardennes that defeated France in 1940 to his dogged parrying of vastly stronger Soviet forces, were the high points of German generalship. His main struggle, though, was with Hitler, whose stand-fast orders stymied the audacious mobile ripostes Manstein conceived to stem the Red Army’s advance; their wrangling over strategy form a tragicomic thread running through the narrative. Melvin gives a lucid and well-paced, if somewhat bloodless, account of Manstein’s campaigns. For all his brilliance, Melvin’s Manstein emerges as a study in futility and self-deception, able only to delay the inevitable with his maneuvers, evasive about war crimes committed under his command—at best willfully ignorant, perhaps actively complicit. A searching portrait of soldierly prowess in a disastrous cause, Melvin’s comprehensive, judicious account will become the standard biography of Manstein in English. 16 pages of color photos, 16 pages of b&w photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 647 pages - 978-0-297-84561-4
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-297-85844-7
Paperback - 647 pages - 978-0-7538-2853-3
Open Ebook - 656 pages - 978-1-4299-6749-5
Paperback - 656 pages - 978-1-250-05784-6
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