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Hitler's Panzers: The Lightning Attacks that Revolutionized Warfare Hardcover – December 1, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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A leading World War II historian provocatively analyzes Germany’s armored forces, the most influential branch of the Wehrmacht on modern warfare. He exposes the roots of the panzers, pointing out that Heinz Guderian was only one of a number of highly innovative commanders who created the panzers and then led them into the highly successful opening battles of the war. The early panzer victories made Hitler a passionate panzer advocate, and that in turn affected the status of the armored forces within the Wehrmacht and their loyalties to Hitler and the Nazi regime in general. Showalter has, as usual, researched thoroughly and written well but furnishes less background than non-scholarly readers will want. --Roland Green

About the Author

Dennis Showalter is a professor of history at Colorado College specializing in military history. From 1997 to 2001 he was president of the American Society for Military History from 1997 to 2001 and is currently an advising fellow of the Barsanti Military History Center at the University of North Texas. Showalter has previously taught at the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Military Academy, and the Marine Corps University. He has written extensively on the wars of Frederick the Great, the German Wars of Unification, World War I, and World War II. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover; 1 edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 042523004X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425230046
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,055,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Dennis Showalter, a professor and noted author, has written a well researched and interesting book on the history of German panzers and the subsequent war doctrine that was built around this lethal weapon. The history starts at the beginning near the banks of the Somme in WWI and deliberately evolves through the dark days of the 1920s and into the 1930s when Hitler's influence escalates. The author develops the history of the panzer, its war doctrine and follows the evolution of new models and their increasing capacities as well as the increasing popularity and recognition of the value of this "new" weapon.

Guderian may have been the most vocal proponent of the panzer but there were others, like Volckheim, Rabenau and Fritsch, that promoted panzers and mobile warfare. With each new panzer model, Volckheim would critcize the gun barrel for being too small and puny. The large barrel panzer that had power and distance would win the war. He would be proven right. By 1939, Germany had an arsenal of Mk IIIs and some Mk IVs to deploy and a blitzkrieg doctrine that would conquer much of Europe and intimidate most of the world. (I've wondered what would have happened, if it would have made a big enough difference if Guderian had Panthers instead of Mk IIIs driving toward Moscow in late 1941 or Hoth driving north toward Stalingrad in 1942.)

The author doesn't present a daily chronology of battle events but does provide an interesting overview of how tanks or tank commanders influenced key battles of the war. Some of the key battles include Kiev, Moscow, Tunisia, Voronezh, Stalingrad, Rostov, Kursk, Korsun, Vitebsk, Brody and the Ardennes Offensive. Some of the key commanders discussed are Guderian, Hoth, Hoepner, Kleist, Kluge, Model, Manstein, Rommel and Rundstedt.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To provide a reader of this assessment with my viewpoint, I read a great deal of history and always have, but am not a proper scholastic historian. I generally have an engineer's personality by both training and temperament. I have read about the tactics of the Panzers, as well as numerous technical assessment of the various tanks used by all sides in WWII, as have most technical folks interested WWII history. I have deduced some of the more general thinking, beliefs, and attitudes of the German Wehrmacht that produced the tactics, which I have found are rarely directly addressed in most books.

This author addresses them directly. It was great fun to read his assessments on the particular German historical circumstances and national character that generated the views and solutions that manifested as the tactics we saw in WW II. He writes in a manner that is easy to read and flows well, unlike some authors whose styles are either too technical (like reading a technical white paper), too touchie-feelie, or simply too fanatical (I don't care if the fanaticism is pro or nay, it makes for tiring reading). I would recommend this book to any one who has read other material on the armament and tactics of WWII, and wants to follow that reading with an informative book on a broader aspect of the tactics used in WWII (but still focused on the particulars of the German experience and the German character).

I don't think this book makes a good "stand-alone" book on the subject; too much background knowledge is assumed. However, for folks who have read other histories, especially folks like me that have read books that focus on specific campaigns, battles, or technical aspects of the armor used in WWII, or perhaps more general books on the rise and fall of the Third Reich, I think this book is a very worthwhile adder.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book! I was, quite frankly, surprised. For the princely price of $.001, plus shipping of course, I discovered a real treasure. Showalter apparently uses some of his students to help him compile information and then puts this information together with real insight.
I have read a host of books about the Panzerwaffe and this is one of the best. This one is a real keeper.
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Format: Hardcover
This book starts very well with a nice history of the development of the Panzer forces and doctrine in the interwar period. Showalter provides a good narrative and analysis of how the German Army pursued armored warfare. This is in several respects a typical story of technological innovation. As is often the case, the inventors of a new technology, in this case the British, were not the ones to develop it and implement it effectively. Driven by the limitations imposed by the Versailles settlement and the overwhelming fact of German defeat in WWI, the German Army had very strong incentives to pursue innovative approaches. All the major interwar powers, and some of the minor ones, made some efforts to develop armored forces but the Germans went the farthest in developing the integrated combination of tanks, infantry, and air support needed for this type of dynamic warfare. Showalter demonstrates the relatively large number of German officers involved in this transition and their continuous interaction with theories and advances in other nations.

Most of the book, however, is a narrative of Panzer actions across WWII. Showalter covers all the major theatres in which the Germans were involved. The invasion of France, the Soviet Union, the grinding combats of the Eastern Front, and the Western Allies invasion of Europe are all covered. In addition to overviews of the actions, Showalter discusses the evolution of equipment and tactical changes across the war. This is generally done very well and demonstrates Showalter's impressive knowledge of WWII. Showalter is a good, though sometimes hyperbolic, writer.

Almost none of this narrative, however, is novel. The general themes are very well known.
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