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The Myth and Reality of German Warfare: Operational Thinking from Moltke the Elder to Heusinger

by Gerhard P. Gross edited by David T. Zabecki foreword by Robert M. Citino

Availablecloth$65.00x 978-0-8131-6837-1
AUSA Books - Foreign Military Studies
464 pages  Pubdate: 09/16/2016  6.125 x 9.25  16 color maps, 12 b&w maps, 26 b&w photos

Publicity Inquiries: Mack McCormick

Surrounded by potential adversaries, nineteenth-century Prussia and twentieth-century Germany faced the formidable prospect of multifront wars and wars of attrition. To counteract these threats, generations of general staff officers were educated in operational thinking, the main tenets of which were extremely influential on military planning across the globe and were adopted by American and Soviet armies. In the twentieth century, Germany’s art of warfare dominated military theory and practice, creating a myth of German operational brilliance that lingers today, despite the nation’s crushing defeats in two world wars.

In this seminal study, Gerhard P. Gross provides a comprehensive examination of the development and failure of German operational thinking over a period of more than a century. He analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of five different armies, from the mid–nineteenth century through the early days of NATO. He also offers fresh interpretations of towering figures of German military history, including Moltke the Elder, Alfred von Schlieffen, and Erich Ludendorff. Essential reading for military historians and strategists, this innovative work dismantles cherished myths and offers new insights into Germany’s failed attempts to become a global power through military means.

Colonel Gerhard P. Gross, Bundeswehr, head of the Department of German Military History before 1945 at the Bundeswehr Center of Military History and Social Sciences in Potsdam, Germany, is the author of numerous books and coeditor of The Schlieffen Plan: International Perspectives on the German Strategy for World War I.

Major General David T. Zabecki, USA (Ret.), is the author of The German 1918 Offensives: A Case Study in the Operational Level of War and editor in chief of the award-winning four-volume encyclopedia Germany at War: 400 Years of Military History. He is an honorary senior research fellow in the War Studies Programme at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Anyone working in the military history of the 19th and 20th centuries will need to read this book. And any one, academic or general reader, with more than a casual interest in the study of war will find it informative and accessible. -- Dennis Showalter, author of The Wars of German Unification

This is a must read. With broad brush strokes, Gerhard Gross presents the scholarship of the last half century on 'the German way of war' from the Elder Moltke to Adolf Heusinger in critical yet convincing fashion, complete with stunning colored maps. His new operational history is more than bugles and drums: it is imbedded firmly in German diplomatic, economic, political, and social history. It is a continuous line of evolution. It painstakingly differentiates among tactics, operations and strategy. It is brilliant. -- Holger H. Herwig, author of The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914–1918

It is in the end a fascinating study of how those at the highest levels of the German General Staff thought in the past—and still think today. -- History Net

The book's US publisher deserves high marks for producing this solid (uncredited) translation of the 2012
German original, equipped with many high-quality maps and a substantive foreword by noted military historian Robert Citino.

Gerhard Gross has confirmed his reputation as a most perceptive practitioner of operational military history. -- Michigan War Studies Review

[Gross’s] historical survey will take the reader on the examination of the operational thought of five different German armies: the Prussian army of the nineteenth century, the Kaiser’s army before and after World War I, the interwar Reichswehr, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht, and finally, the Bundeswehr of the Cold War. The result is a fascinating study of a disastrous continuity in military thought. -- Military Review

Gross goes beyond the scope of most works on German military history by extending his discussion into the early Cold War period. The Myth and Reality of German Warfare: Operational Thinking from Moltke the Elder to Heusinger is indispensable reading for any student of the topic. -- Parameters

Gross’s command of the literature, both in English and German, shines through his analysis. Skillfully argued and thoroughly researched, Gross’s study demolishes the myth of German operational brilliance and exposes the limitations of maneuver warfare at the strategic level. -- Journal of Military History

Gross has made a major contribution to the literature in this field. The Myth and Reality of German Warfare: Operational Thinking from Moltke the Elder to Heusinger is indispensable reading for any student of the topic. -- NYMAS Review