|CASEMATE - The Men of Barbarossa|
A look at a new title from Casemate examining the personalities behind the invasion of Russia
The Men of Barbarossa
Publisher: Casemate Publishing
Author: Samuel W.Mitsham, Jnr
Hardback, 256 pages
"History’s greatest military operation and the commanders who nearly led it to success ...
This book not only tells the story of Operation Barbarossa but describes the expertise, skills, and decision-making powers of the men who directed it. The result is an illuminating look at the personalities behind the carnage, as summer triumph turned to winter crisis, including new insights into the invasion’s many tactical successes, as well as its ultimate failure.
This objective is massive in scope, because Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the
I was unsure when given this book to read of what to expect. Although I often find historical texts such as this engrossing, I sometimes find I have to be almost pushed into reading them, then once I begin I can't put them down. This was the case here. Although the title is fairly self-explanatory, the introductory text is slightly misleading I found, since although it 'sort of' tells the story of Operation Barbarossa, there are far more detailed and authoritative texts to be had on that subject, this particular book being far more centred around the actual personalities of the German commanders involved....as it should be given that title.
The books contents are broken down logically, yet somewhat unusually;
Setting the Stage
The Frontier Battles
Battles of Encirclement
The Drive on
The Offensive on the Flanks
To The Gates of
What happened to the Men of Barbarossa?
Appendices 1 - 4
The book is written so that on telling the story of Barbarossa, each personality is introduced as necessary in the telling of the story, this then being interrupted with a detailed description of that person. This doesn't exactly lead to a flowing text, and I found myself at times getting annoyed when the authors mentioned somebody by name since it was inevitable that the next paragraph would begin with "Herr X was born in
Unless you're a dedicated student of this specific part of World War II, it's likely that you will not have heard of most of the persons involved. Those you will have heard of are written of in unflattering tones, and more than once I found what the authors had written completely at odds with what I thought of knew of those particular people. Admiral Canaris being a case in point.
The book contains a huge volume of historical fact. Just how much fact versus opinion is a moot point, best left to others to verify with more time on their hands than I have, however....in the first few pages the authors refer to the new German wonder tank as an Pz.Kpfw.V Tiger. There are other gaffes too.
I have to admit to eventually scanning the short biographies to get back to the 'story' of Barbarossa, although strangely I did find myself continuously referring to one of the final chapters to discover what happened to the person after the War...if indeed they survived it. Out of all the many, many people mentioned, the Commander that lived the longest only died in 2004 and this more than anything sort of brought the events described in the book to life for me. Until then I had been reading a historical text, when suddenly it was almost as if it was describing something somehow more 'real'. Difficult to explain.
As anybody who knows me will attest to....I am far from a student of history. Although I am aware of there being far more detailed texts available on Barbarossa, this book actually contained enough detail on it to maintain my interest. Unfortunately the book is far more concerned on the German commanders and men behind Operation Barbarossa, and the way the book is written means that this sometimes gets in the way of telling the story. So much so that it becomes annoying. This is not a fault of the books concept...rather one of the authors. There has to be more ways of beginning a biographical section than simply stating "Heinrich Alfred Hermann Walter von Brauchitsch was born in
If you're really interested in the actual men of Barbarossa, then it's a great read. If you're interested in Barbarossa, then the cover price may discourage you a little.
My thanks to CASEMATE PUBLISHING for the review sample.