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Operation Typhoon: Hitler's March on Moscow, October 1941 Paperback – March 23, 2015
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"With a firm grasp of strategic, operational, economic, and logistical factors, Stahel has again laid bare German weaknesses and shattered the myth of the all-powerful Wehrmacht. The best sort of revisionism, Operation Typhoon dissects the material factors leading to ultimate German failure before Moscow, all the while integrating the personal aspect of the battle through deft use of the diaries and letters of German soldiers. An impressive achievement."
Stephen G. Fritz, author of Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East
"David Stahel has written a detailed, carefully documented, and engaging analysis of the last great German offensive of 1941. All the elements of the German defeat are here, from macroeconomics, ideology, and criminality to logistics, intelligence, tactics, and weapons design. This is a fine complement to Stahel's works on Barbarossa and Kiev."
Geoffrey P. Megargee, author of War of Annihilation: Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front, 1941
"Stahel's third book on Germany's 1941 Russian campaign demonstrates that focus on the operational level led to ignoring strategic considerations. Emphasis on force of will encouraged overlooking material problems. Defeat in front of Moscow was a consequence not of Hitler's interference, not even of Soviet resistance, but of the vaunted German army's internal weaknesses."
Dennis Showalter, author of Hitler's Panzers: The Lightning Attacks that Revolutionized Warfare
"David Stahel's new book on Operation Typhoon is his best yet. Wedding detailed archival research, an intimate knowledge of the secondary sources, and a gripping narrative, Stahel has set a new standard for scholarship on the Eastern Front. No student of the massive conflict between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union should be without this book. A major addition to the literature."
Robert M. Citino, author of Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942
"Great detail ... Stahel succeeds in provoking some interesting new perspectives and ideas."
Daniel Pilfold, The Second World War Military Operations Research Group
"Stahel, as he has done with his previous two books, has fundamentally and correctly re-interpreted the latter stages of the Barbarossa campaign. It is a must-read for general and military historians."
David Glantz, Journal of Military History
"... combines strategic and economic context, statistics, operational analysis, and tactical-level accounts from individual soldiers in constructing a layered but highly readable narrative. It is a remarkable feat."
Richard R. Muller, World War II
"... a treasure trove of information regarding the late fall battles between the Germans and Soviets in 1941."
Adam Koeth, Armchair General
"Stahel incorporates in quantity the voices of German soldiers and outside observers."
Evan Mawdsley, War in History
"An in-depth new account."
Military History Magazine
Operation Typhoon was launched by Hitler in October 1941 to capture Moscow and knock the Soviet Union out of the war. Traditionally viewed as a victory, this groundbreaking new account of the offensive reveals that despite success on the battlefield the wider German war effort was already doomed to failure.
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Top Customer Reviews
To my surprise this book covers only the fighting and command decisions of October which primarily included the pocket battles of Vyazma and Bryansk while the next book will be devoted to the final advance on Moscow, ending on December 5th.(I'm hoping Mr Stahel will then write about the German defense of Zhukov's counter offensive.)
As a prelude to the main story, a recap of Operation Barbarossa and Guderian's run to Kiev is presented to bring the reader up to speed. A brief historical military summary of Germany going back to the 12th century is also given that includes the influence of Clausewitz Theory has on German commanders. Napoleon's attempts to conquer Russia also plays heavy on Hitler and other key officers. As usual the German perspective concerning operational, strategic and political aspects drive the narrative.
Also as usual, the author has performed a tremendous amount of research for he covers Operation Typhoon on a daily basis and include many battle facts on individual corps and divisions along with their respective commanders as they struggle to close and eliminate the pockets at Vyazma and Bryansk while 3rd PzA heads for Kalinin. In addition to showing the fanatical resistance of the Soviets in trying to escape their doom, Mr Stahel also clearly shows how disgruntled German commanders fought among themselves, a delusional OKH that wouldn't see the severity of fighting for what it was, rainy weather, impossible muddy roads, terrible logistics and lack of fuel would bring the German Army to an abrupt halt by the end of October. The AGC had not fully recovered from the fighting in August and September and with the casualties of October was in no position to tackle Moscow in 1941, especially in the disposition OKH had ordered. Forging a salient from Kalinin to Tula all the way to Moscow was just too unreasonable.
Once again it is shown that regardless of "winning battles", the German Army with its own problems and its inability to see the true cost of those victories were over extending themselves, suffering too many casualties and making too many strategic errors that would prevent the capture of Moscow in 1941 or ever. On the other side of the ledger, its shown how thousands of Russians escaped the pockets to fight another day as well as the stubborn resistance within the pockets that caused the Germans until almost the end of October to eliminate the pockets and devote their full attention on moving on Moscow. This resistance gave Zhukov time to improve defenses and bring reserves up to the line in sufficient levels to stop the Germans in early December. Though the coverage is predominately German, there is still sufficient coverage of Soviet responses, especially when Zhukov is in sector for the reader to have a good understanding of the overall campaign. It is clearly shown that in many local battles at the pockets and at Kalinin that the Soviets actually halted the German advance while causing massive casualties.
I believe the book is further enhanced in describing the operation and the positional stance of the author that the Germans were bleeding themselves white while advancing toward Moscow by the careful selection of excerpts from primary documents and the hundreds of first hand accounts chosen to back up his positions.
In addition to the excellent overview, the author presents 15 detailed maps drawn by David Glantz that show divisional deployments and progress. The series of maps clearly show the quick envelopment of Vyazma and Bryansk in the first week of the operation and then the subsequent slowing of the advance due to a myriad of reasons. The maps will definitely aid the reader in following the narrative and Mr Stahel includes map references on some of the key battles, letting the reader move quickly to the proper map. The book also includes a few tables and photos, a 67 page Notes Section and an impressive Bibliography of primary and secondary sources. The book closes with an Index. This material is invaluable if further study is desired.
Operation Typhoon dovetails logically with the author's two earlier books in both battlefield strategy as well as the economic and political arenas and if you enjoyed those books, you'll definitely enjoy this book. And if you haven't read those earlier books, the first chapter summarizes and will give you sufficient background knowledge so you won't miss a beat reading this book.
I find Mr Stahel's writing style interesting and effective; I find the story development and premise logical and hard to dispute. This book along with the author's earlier books provide key insight into the war and I highly recommend this book to all students of the Russo-German War.
I criticized his previous book, on Kiev, for not being tightly focused on its subject, and for having poor maps. I am happy to say this book does NOT have those problems. He sets the stage in his first tightly written chapter by describing what happened in the USSR from June to October, and the majority of the book focuses on October. The maps, once again from David Glantz, cover the battle of Bryansk-Vyazma in close detail (eleven maps for a four week period!) and are of high quality.
Some other reviewers write that Stahel is continuing the same themes from his previous books. This is true to some extent, but there is actually no reason to expect the same Army, under the same leadership, to be radically different in October than it was in August and September. Even given that his view of the fundamental problems of the German Army is much the same in this book as the previous ones, there is certainly enough new material in here on the actual operations in October to justify a new book.
Stahel concludes that the Germans won a tactical and operational victory but could not translate this into strategic success. The German Army won a battle, but could not win the war. He also notes that the Soviets were preparing a defense-in-depth of Moscow itself, meaning that if the Germans had reached the city in October or November, they would not have taken it easily, but would have been bogged down in protracted, draining urban combat.
He notes the German propaganda campaign in October, which announced that "Russia is beaten, and the Red Army is annihilated", only set up the German population for a huge disappointment when the Wehrmacht did not take Moscow after all, and the war continued. Finally, although the main perspective of the book is that of the strategic and operational commanders, he includes perspectives from the front line soldiers (which mainly serves to indicate that the higher headquarters were living in a fantasy world).
In conclusion, this is Stahel's best one yet, and a worthy addition to any collection of books on the Eastern Front.