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Manstein: Hitler's Greatest General Hardcover – June 7, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Mr. Melvin's biography is meticulously researched, and his treatment of Manstein's military prowess is thorough.” ―The Wall Street Journal

“A searing portraint of soldierly prowess in a disastrous cause, Melvin's comprehensive, judicious account will become the standard biography of Manstein in English.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A comprehensive, vivid portrait . . . Major General Mungo Melvin has admirably captured the long elusive Erich von Manstein in a book of particular relevance to today's readers.” ―Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer prize–winning author of An Army at Dawn

“Superb . . . Mungo Melvin writes with penetrating analysis and fine prose about the greatest strategic brain of any side in the struggle.” ―Andrew Roberts, author of Masters and Commanders

“This crisp, compelling book, the first full-scale biography of Manstein in English . . . grapples with the Manstein myth and gets the measure of the man.” ―Daily Express (UK)

“Melvin is well attuned to the moral compromise of the Wehrmacht's senior officers and his biography is markedly nuanced.” ―The Times (UK)

“A long-overdue analysis of this German Field Marshal . . . Few authors are as qualified to write this book as General Melvin, one of the foremost thinkers in the British Army. . . . [A] compelling yet unflinching portrait of one of the military geniuses of the twentieth century.” ―Military History Quarterly

“More than a biography of a great commander; this is a penetrating account of a general's conflict with his political leader and the moral dilemmas involved.” ―Soldier magazine

About the Author

MAJOR GENERAL MUNGO MELVIN is Senior Directing Staff (Army), Royal College of Defence Studies, London. He has directed the British Army's Strategic and Combat Studies Institute, managed the Higher Command and Staff Course at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, and served as Director of Operational Capability in the Ministry of Defence.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312563124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312563127
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #913,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Manstein: Hitler's Greatest General.

This new biography by Major General Melvin is long overdue and it is likely that it will remain the definitive work on Manstein for a considerable time to come. Significantly, although the book is clearly written with the military specialist in mind, there is a great deal which will be of serious interest to a wide general readership.

Until now, Manstein's reputation as a military genius has been based on his own memoir `Lost Victories' which described his role in designing and planning Fall Gelb (case yellow) the Ardennes campaign in 1940 and on the Eastern Front until his dismissal by Hitler in 1944. Now, for the first time, a General Staff Officer is providing an in-depth appraisal of Manstein's overall career, his campaigns, his subsequent trial before a British military court in 1948 and his later contributions to the present-day Heer, the modern German Federal Armed Forces.

General Melvin's research and analysis is of a high order. The more so, as a War College graduate he has extensive experience of the military operational environment and is the first historian to be granted unlimited access to the Manstein family archives. As a German linguist, he was able to use such access to full advantage. Additionally, (having walked the ground) he provides a General Staff Officer's skilled appraisal of Manstein's major campaign successes such as the Crimea, where he was able to identify and visit the site of the German 11th Army headquarters. There are also rare insights into the Field Marshal's later brilliant defensive operations in the Donets River Basin, both on forehand and backhand maneuvers, at Army Group level.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first read that biography of General-Field Marshal Erich von Manstein was about to be published I was elated. When I learnt the said work was to be written by a senior British military analyst and historian I literally couldnt wait to get the book.

I was not to be disappointed.

This book is an indepth and articulate historical study of the man who in the humble opinion of this reviewer was the last great tactical genius of conventional warfare, and was long overdue for a serious study and biography.

Western historians and military figures have traditionally swallowed German wartime propoganda(mostly Goebbels work) and assumed that the likes of Rommel and Model were german military geniuses, while the standout German military leader was in fact Erich von Manstein. Hitler admired Manstein ability but loathed his attitude and aristocratic background, and saw von Manstein as a threat. Hence his promotion of individuals such as Rommel.

Although von Mansteins name is well known to serious students of military history it is less known to historians and the public at large. This book quite rightly seeks to address that lack of knowledge about this talented and complicated individual.

From the conception of the successful invasion of France to the capture of the Crimea, and holding the Red Army at bay - as much as was possible - as the German Army retreated after Stalingrad, Manstein was the man behind all these successful military ventures, in both the planning or operational levels.

The author has not attempted to gloss either the good or bad parts of the Field Marshals character or experiences.
This is not a journalistic piece with an 'axe to grind' or an ideology to expound.
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Comment 29 of 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Erich von Manstein, a name most Americans will probably have a hard time picturing have finally got a biography worthy of his place as one of the 20th century's greatest military field commanders. The author, Mungo Melvin, a retired British Major General had access to von Manstein's personal papers and he wrote a biography that combined both military as well as personal history of this German field marshal. (Probably helped that the author can read and speak German as well. It should be noted that most of von Manstein's personal papers have never been release before this.)

Now the subtitled "Hitler's Greatest General" may sound like this book may be very pro-von Manstein however the book maintained a very even kneel throughout the pages and the author when called for, have put von Manstein on the carpet for his selective memories on war crimes, his lack of moral courage during his campaigns and even his shortcomings as a commander. For Example: In the Crimea, army commander not knowing about the exterminations of civilians around his area of operation must be deaf on purpose. His refusal to outright order von Paulus to break out of Stalingrad and instead, hiding behind Hitler to avoid the responsibility reflects his lack of moral courage at times. His over confidences have led to minor setback at Stolsty or his inability to understand how much the Soviets are getting better in war-craft that led to his continual retreats as commander of Army Group South after Kursk. These are just examples shown from the book that reflects that the author was not taken in by the von Manstein's legendary mystique

Still, for all of von Manstein's weaknesses, the author made it plain and clear that his greatness as a premier operational commander of World War II was second to none.
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