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I was browsing eBay and came across a book series that I was not aware of

Operation Barbarossa: the Complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis

Nigel Askey (multi-volume set)

Has anyone seen or read this book. It is a bit pricey. It may be an interesting read but it does not even show up on my Canadian University Interlibrary Loan services.

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Amazon has the first book for about $60 and Lulu.com had it on for $52 plus shipping. I think I will try to get the first book but it would have to be a major investment to get the 6 books in the entire series. I expect that would run a guy about $600 in the end.

Try putting that in front of your wife on Friday night?

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Canada Guy,

News to me, but I just a started the very recent (2008 pub date) blockbuster Absolute War by university Mil Science don Chris Bellamy, author of the horribly expensive (why I don't own it) and wonderful Red God of War (Russian Arty in WW II and the Cold War--during which it was published). Am blown away by both the content and the glorious felicity of a GPW expert who writes fluidly and readably. Unlike Glantz the Turgid and Tortuous! Him I deem to be perhaps the worst writer I've ever encountered when it comes to World War II. Never have I seen anyone manage to combine the worst aspects of the Kalahari Desert in the summer with the Russian Rasputitsa's unending slog of mud--as a writing style.

As to why the Op Barbarossa series is not available via Interlibrary Loan, the first volume came out only last year. It takes libraries a bit to become aware of, gain permission to obtain, budget for, acquire and accession new books. Here's the rundown on the series.

http://www.operationbarbarossa.net

I note with interest that there's a lot of a la Dupuy weapon effectiveness analysis used in this (looks to be) amazing study. A quick glance (not Glantz) sufficed to elicit a Pavlovian response which I had to contain lest it short my equipment and electrocute me! From a quick look, it's significantly cheaper to get the books from Lulu.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Great! I now have another book Absolute War to nominate for my military book club.

Currently, I am reading The Making Of Strategy as well as Tim Cooks new book The Necessary War and have found both fascinating. Tim Cook is a good writer and one of the few that tackles Canada at War. We actually had the honour of having him attend one of our book club meetings after we had finished his book At the Sharp End. Nice guy.

I actually enjoy (maybe a strong word) Glantz as I am looking more for the material and not for the writing style. Substance over form, but then his books are not a night time read but more for my degree that I am working towards.

I read some excerpts from Nigel Askey's Vol IIA from the website and the subject seemed interesting and the writing style suited me.

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Absolute War is indeed a very good book. It is a serious study written with the ease and style of a popular history. As for Gantz, mind-numbingly turgid though his style may be, he is not the worst. That accolade goes to Anthony Tucker-Jones an ex-analyst who turned to writing military history, and produced the appalling 'Stalins Revenge', an account of Bagration taken from a handful of secondary sources and written like a 'D Grade' school essay.

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Hi,

I thought I knew every book there was on the Eastern Front, of quality anyway... but have missed the Nigel Askey ones. Maybe the cover as it came up on Amazon looked too like just another popular picture book. Not sure.

BTW... in defence of Glantz... he is there to crash out the material and information. It would be asking too much given his output to expect works of literature. By background he is an information man. Analyst and such.

Fantastic sources of information. But books like Absolute War are certainly better written I agree.

All the best,

Kip.

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kipanderson,

Speaking from the perspective of someone who was a professional military analyst for over eleven years and who briefed generals, admirals and senior spooks on threat issues affecting weapon programs worth billions, I can tell you that getting the information and analyses together is, at best, half the battle. The real trick lies in effectively presenting that information to the viewers and readers. I in no way dispute the excellence of what Glantz assembles and presents, but his manner of presentation would've gotten me royally reamed--if not fired-- during my military aerospace days.

Reading someone's book should not be like having a root canal done without benefit of anesthesia. I was all excited to read Glantz and House's Kursk book, only to discover it was pretty much unreadable, a situation vastly worsened by the lack of maps allowing the reader to follow the action on the ground as events unfolded. The more complex the information being presented is, the more important it becomes to package it so that the reader doesn't simply drown in information without real context.

To read an entire division fought a bitter all-day battle to take a certain village is utterly useless when you have no idea where the village is in the Kursk salient, how the village fits in the overall scheme of things, the ground it sits on, the transportation corridors it permits or blocks, the formation whose flank is exposed if it falls, the seam between units now attackable and much more. To me, it still makes no sense.

An entire German division takes all day to capture one village--against fanatical resistance by the Russians. Why? If he can't be bothered to explain that, then all he's done is throw uncorrelated data at the reader. Contrariwise, show me a map of the sector described, show the unit boundaries, depict the day's objectives and provide the EEI (Essential Elements of Information). Now, we're getting someplace.

The account now reads something like

"Since it was essential to seize the village of Bobruysk A, a key railroad junction (Map 3b) in order to allow the commitment and supply of the XV Panzer Corps the following day and subsequent exploitation on the axis Kutovo-Samansk-Volodar (all of which need to be on that map) to uncover the left flank of the 213th RD, XV PC commander General Marck ordered the 17th ID to take Bobrusyk A "at all costs" by 1800 on the (insert date). Bobruysk A was fanatically defended to the last by the remnants of Rgt 103, 245th RD. The 245th was now fought out, and the 16th Army Commander, General Pavelov, had no reserves available. It was about this time that a Stuka strike destroyed his communication center, depriving him of the ability to ask for help from (insert next higher commander). Consequently, nightfall found XV PC positioned to drive hard into the left flank of 213th RD, threatening to turn 16th Army's position and force withdrawal to the Reserve Defense Line anchored by the villages of X, Y and Z."

Suddenly, the pieces fall into place, things come sharply into focus, and committing an entire German infantry division to take some village no one ever heard of before now makes sense.

This is exactly what Glantz didn't do. Been there myself. I got jumped on once by my department manager when I presented him, in an oral briefing in his office, with an array of information which I understood, but he didn't grasp, not having been involved in the work. He brought me up short with a sharp "Don't make me drink from the fire hydrant." That caused me to back off, slow down and carefully explain things. Glantz constantly makes the reader drink from the fire hydrant; at times, a bunch of them. Consequently I suffered from a near-fatal case of (information) hyponatremia throughout the book, pretty much killing my desire to read anything else he wrote. This wasn't always the case, for his early book, written while still serving, The Soviet Airborne Experience, was clear and positively sprightly in its writing by comparison--and had lots of maps, many of which were foldouts. If you can find a hard copy with all the maps in it, you'll find it quite the informative read. Meanwhile, here's the digital version.

http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/download/csipubs/glantz.pdf

Regards,

John Kettler

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John, hi,

“Speaking from the perspective of someone who was a professional military analyst for over eleven years and who briefed generals, admirals and senior spooks on threat issues affecting weapon programs worth billions, I can tell you that getting the information and analyses together is, at best, half the battle. The real trick lies in effectively presenting that information to the viewers and readers. I in no way dispute the excellence of what Glantz assembles and presents, but his manner of presentation would've gotten me royally reamed--if not fired-- during my military aerospace days.”

Ok.. I may simply be too forgiving ;). I take your point that if the presentation is not up to standard the information does not get through. No matter how good the quality of the research.

BTW... given your views... have you read the books by Stephen Barratt... Zhitomir – Berdichev operation?

Has its own distinctive style I like. Presents the information in very straightforward way with masses of very high quality maps.

Wodin, yup I generally agree with you... Amazon is a wonderful resource for seeing what is out there.

All the best,

Kip.

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kipanderson,

I've not read any of his books, but shall keep them in mind. My Eastern Front holdings currently amount to a few, fortunately usually great, books, mostly personal accounts or stories of major ops rich in same. Naval Spetsnaz, Penal company CO, Russian regimental DF gun CO, German infantryman in it from Barbarossa on, Brandenbergers, Russian Airborne, the Battle of Moscow on the northern flank, several books on Kursk, one highly lamentable, two others quite good. And I've been reading like a fiend on IRemember.

Would love to own the entire (drool!)Fedororowicz German armor book collection, the Jason Marks(?) Stalingrad books and tons of other goodies, but I'm fortunate to have Carius yet to read and Absolute War to read. The human element trying to survive in a supremely inhuman environment, if you will.

The most gigantic ops have to start somewhere and with someone, so I treasure accounts of the OT-34 guy right behind the highly classified mineroller tank regiment which was the bleeding edge of the Op Bagration armored assault. I revel in the T-34/76 TC's story of fighting until crewmen passed out from heat and gun fumes in his buttoned per the regs tank at Kursk. I delight in the bounced bridge, the coup de main, the taking off from an airfield suddenly under attack, the rolling in on the target with an Il-2--while a FW-190 rolls in on you. Am far more weapon oriented that I am operationally oriented; doubtless a product of what was in the house (of my defense engineer father) when I was growing up: lots of WW II memoirs and biographies, paras, commandos, PTs, kamikazes, X-craft, raiders, technical books on radar and radar history, guided missile development, secret weapons and those wonderful Ballantine books in their profusion, including the Jukes Kursk book which began my Eastern front recalibration process and hugely expanded my reality on who really bore the brunt of WW II, ending an embarrassing western parochialism. My mind reels to this day trying to comprehend the almost incomprehensible scope, scale and vast territories over which WITE was waged, never mind the astronomic losses and incredible savagery. As for that other guy...

Glantz is not only his own worst enemy from the writing end, but he is further undone by the horribly dense text, acute absence of white space and the not easily read font and point size. Page 1 (accessible via Look Inside) devastatingly shows what I mean. Here, it is practically a solid page of text. A veritable deluge of words which overwhelms my mind and has to be read in small portions. See for yourself.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Battle-Kursk-David-Glantz/dp/0700613358

Canada Guy,

I've been in correspondence with the guy who owns and runs AA (Archive Awareness). He was aware of the books, had apparently looked at the volumes already out and came away upset and disappointed, characterizing the analysis as "shallow." There was more, but since I'm not quite sure I understood what he was saying, I deem it best to just say it had to do with the T-34 as represented in the books and computer models and in why the Russian Army performed so poorly vs the Germans during Barbarossa. If (note conditional) what he says is true, then it might be a good idea to feast upon the carefully accumulated force structure material and nibble cautiously at the conclusions derived via the computer modeling. It may also be that the AA guy's own biases were showing. I don't know.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Operation Barbarossa: the Complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis

Nigel Askey (multi-volume set)

Has anyone seen or read this book.

You can "look inside the book" on Amazon to read a few pages and/or look at the table of contents. Frankly it doesn't look very interesting to me...

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Canada Guy,

Absolute War has a concise, excellent discussion of the Winter War (Chapter 4) at primarily the strategic level. The book is first rate and despite repeatedly causing my gorge to rise from the seemingly unending murders of noncombatants, and that's before the GPW proper really got going, is both engrossing and hugely informative. I found Chapter 5 (am on 6, I believe) to be of great interest, because Bellamy takes a pretty deep look at the explosive questions of who planned to do what, to whom and when.

He personally believes Stalin, because of both the lack of sufficient modern weaponry and the urgent need to rebuild the thoroughly purged officer corps, couldn't have attacked Germany until 1942, but Stalin certainly did plan to attack Germany. Bellamy, who knows Suvorov/Rezun personally, has brought in Suvorov no less than six times to talk to his doctoral level students in Military Sciences at the University of Edinburgh about Russian military matters, has some complimentary things to say about Suvorov's argument and evidence, doubtless to the consternation of those here who view him and the whole thing as male bovine excreta and him as insane. Worse for them, having carefully considered the evidence pro and con, rather than rejecting outright the "Stalin planned to attack Germany in 1941, but was beaten to the punch by Hitler" scenario, Bellamy instead says, and I quote, "the jury is still out." Believe this is a good time to invest in pharmaceuticals, what with all the resultant hypertension!

Regards,

John Kettler

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Canada Guy,

[bellamy] personally believes Stalin, because of both the lack of sufficient modern weaponry and the urgent need to rebuild the thoroughly purged officer corps, couldn't have attacked Germany until 1942, but Stalin certainly did plan to attack Germany. Bellamy...has some complimentary things to say about Suvorov's argument and evidence, doubtless to the consternation of those here who view him and the whole thing as male bovine excreta and him as insane. Worse for them, having carefully considered the evidence pro and con, rather than rejecting outright the "Stalin planned to attack Germany in 1941, but was beaten to the punch by Hitler" scenario, Bellamy instead says, and I quote, "the jury is still out."

So why would Bellamy saying that the "jury is still out" convince anyone that Stalin was going to attack Hitler in 1941?? I've read alot about this and don't find the evidence about a 1941 Sov attack very convincing, but 1942, maybe...

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76mm,

I'm not saying it would convince anyone, but since the default here on the Forums has consistently consisted of derision, invective and outright dismissal of there being so much a possibility Stalin planned to attack Hitler before the end of 1941, I'd say that Bellamy's scholarly conclusion is something of a bombshell here on the Forum. It's tough to gainsay the likes of Bellamy, though, who possesses impeccable academic credentials, including a stint at Sandhurst. From what he says, there's no way of resolving the fundamental question, unless the right documents emerge, and the archives which may have them are now closed to western researchers. Given there's now a law on Russia's books prohibiting the publication of anything that makes the Red Army of the GPW look bad, are we really to believe Putin would let out damning archival material which showed Stalin and the long-suffering Russian people as anything but the stalwart defenders of a Motherland treacherously, suddenly and viciously subjected to the ravening Nazi horde and the demonic Hitler behind it all? I think not.

Regards,

John Kettler

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While it's not new, today I received my copy of Bagration to Berlin: The Final Air Battles in the East 1944-1945 by Christer Bergstrom. Like all of his other books (such as the Black Cross / Red Star books), this one is a very deep and well-researched study of the air war on the Eastern Front and ties what was happening in the sky with what was happening on the ground.

http://www.amazon.com/Bagration-Berlin-Final-Battles-1944-1945/dp/1903223911/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413678268&sr=1-3

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He [bellamy] personally believes Stalin, because of both the lack of sufficient modern weaponry and the urgent need to rebuild the thoroughly purged officer corps, couldn't have attacked Germany until 1942, but Stalin certainly did plan to attack Germany...

While Suvorov's thesis has been successfully debunked by Glantz, Isaev, Gordievsky and any one of a number of other contemporary Russian historians, there is a kernel of truth to his claims. Firstly, in the event of an attack by Germany, Soviet planning called for a counterattack by the 'third echelon' reaching as far west as Katowice (200 km) in the Silesian coal fields, the object being to cut Germany off from her coal supply and forcing them to come to the table. If Romania joined in, another thrust was to be made west to the Carpathians to interdict traffic moving north from Germany's allies. This was MP-41, the Soviet operational plan in June 1941. There is also a preliminary plan devised by Zhukov in March 1941 for a preemptive attack on Germany that was squashed as soon as it was presented to Stalin, who was opposed to anything that might provoke the Germans. It all went to hell, of course, due to the incomplete mobilization of the Red Army and the total state of unreadiness on the part of the Red Army.

More to the point, Soviet diplomacy prior to September 1939 had been directed at containing Nazi Germany in conjunction with France, especially, and Great Britain, who would have no part of any alliance with the USSR. Neither was willing to act against Germany, a fact made abundantly clear by Chamberlain's trip to Munich in 1938. Stalin wanted stability more than anything, and viewed Germany's expansion with consternation. When the Wehrmacht marched into what remained of Czechoslovakia an March 1939, the French and British did nothing but make speeches.

A few years ago a s diary was discovered in a safe where one of those present described a meeting in the Kremlin early in April 1939 attended by Stalin and his senior cabinet. IIRC, the diary belonged to Vasilevski, but I've lost the bookmark. Evidently, Stalin had realized that Germany had to be stopped and that with no one else willing to act, it would fall upon the USSR to do so. Stalin asked how long it would take to get new tanks and aircraft into general service and was told four years. He ordered that work begin immediately, suggesting that 1943 was the date he was contemplating for an attack on Germany. Coincidentally, 1943 was also Hitler's target date, at least before the quick collapse of France allowed him to advance his timetable.

On the face of it, that seems to me a reasonable course of events. In the weeks following April 1939, specifications were issued for fighters, bombers, tanks, etc. that resulted in the Yak-1, LaGG-3, MiG-3, Yer-2 and T-40, T-50, T-34 and KV tanks. The Red Army began to mobilize, draft laws were changed to expand the armed forces, plans were made to evacuate industry to the east, and so on — circumstantial evidence, perhaps, but it would confirm the timing, anyway.

There are some very lengthy discussions on Armchair General with more details. It was a couple of years ago since this came up and I found all this new information. Most of it is on the site Voennaya Literatura — http://militera.lib.ru/research/index.html .

Regards

Scott Fraser

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Yeknodathon,

Considering they came up and practically dislocated my shoulder they shook my hand so hard and vigorously after the NASP Threat Analysis briefing my physicist colleague and I gave, I'd say they were. Blew them away and had done my homework so well there was some excitement resulting when my use of lateral thinking on a NASP countermeasure issue apparently breached some compartmentalized program's security. Would never have known that had two suits not come flying up from their chairs and loudly interrogated me about it in the middle of the briefing before 100+ attendees.

dsf,

Bellamy specifically talks abut Gordievsky's view and, I believe, mentions Isaev. Nowhere, that I recall, does he say anything about Glantz's having refuted the Suvorov argument, but maybe that came after Ultimate War was published.

Pretty cool discovery, that diary. Thanks for the information and your link.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Er, yes, quite, I can imagine compartmentalized breaching could be quite tricky and might cause some some excitement. I'd definitely need a change of underpants if that happened without warning and I wouldn't want a Rear Admiral to my stern, that's for certain. It can be quite lonely in a small cabin.

It's quite clear you had the situation under control. Please carry on.

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... Bellamy specifically talks abut Gordievsky's view and, I believe, mentions Isaev. Nowhere, that I recall, does he say anything about Glantz's having refuted the Suvorov argument, but maybe that came after Ultimate War was published...

Glantz wrote Stumbling Colossus in rebuttal to Suvorov's claims.

Regards

Scott Fraser

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dsf,

I'd read some on the forums about this book, and had it on my list of things to read simply because of topics covered, but I wasn't aware it was a rebuttal to Icebreaker. In any case, its publication date (1998) would suggest, unless eclipsed by subsequent works, it would've gotten more mention (did see the title mentioned in Ultimate War). But then, Bellamy's got an epic war to cover and hasn't much room for exposition on every interesting Eastern Front topic. Frankly, I was amazed and thrilled to see that he devoted an entire chapter to the matter.

Regards,

John Kettler

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First, let's be clear. They are not "Suvorov's claims", they are Adolph Hitler and Joseph Goebbel's claims. The claim that Russia was about to attack Germany originates in Hitler's speech announcing the invasion of Russia by Germany, to the German public. It remained a staple of German propaganda throughout the war. Suvorov invented nothing, he just sided with German wartime propaganda in an excess of dislike for Stalin. The reality is the claim whitewashes Stalin in another respect, because Stalin never saw the German attack coming, and it was the greatest strategic blunder of his life. Stalin who trusted no one, trusted Hitler; Hitler who deserved no rational man's trust, was trusted fully by Stalin.

We know this because we know all the successful Russian intelligence that tried to tell Stalin that Germany was about to attack. We know the western intelligence that also understood this and tried to convey it to Stalin. We know the wall of distrust, as supposedly British misinformation and provocation, that Stalin showed to all such reports, extending to violently calling for everyone telling him such things to be arrested, tortured and killed. More, even after the invasion when Stalin learned he had been completely wrong in his estimates of German intentions and all these intelligence sources had been right, he still actively sought the deaths of those who had told him so ahead of time. Because they knew how badly he had blown it, because they had told him so, he sought their destruction to silence them.

Trains carrying important industrial supplies and food continued to roll across the border from Russia into Germany right up until the day of the invasion. Stalin not only forbade Russian military aviation from scouting the German build up, he forced them to ignore and allow deep German reconnaissance flights into Russian territory. He relieved of command aviation officers who so much as reported such incursions.

Stalin convinced himself in 1939 that the Ribbentrop Molotov Pact was a diplomatic masterstroke on his part. He believed he had successfully deflected Germany west, into a war against the capitalist status quo powers. He expected that war to last a long time, and to weaken both parties. His military ambitions westward were all contingent on the possibility of a German defeat in that war. He was perfectly willing to contemplate and prepare for conquering Europe in the wake of a German collapse, but he had no intention of fighting heavily to cause that collapse himself.

He further thought it was unthinkable for Germany to attack him because he thought it would be a blunder on Germany's part. He thought they would never leave Britain unconquered in their rear to take on a two front war. He readily believed the German misinformation campaign that told him that all rumors of war preparation in Germany directed at Russia were British provocations, stemming from Britain's desperation and need for a continental ally to do their fighting and bleeding for them.

He wasn't wrong that it was reckless and a blunder for Germany to attack him. He was hopelessly naive in his estimate of Hitler's (entirely imaginary) rationality and risk aversion.

Molotov's reaction to the declaration of war was to complain to the Germans themselves that "surely we have not deserved this" - a moral complaint of one capo to another that they had done everything to keep faith. Stalin was worse - he locked himself away for days and refused to see anyone. They were deeply ashamed of how stupid they had been.

Compared to that reality, the image of deep scheming planners is more flattering and a whitewash. It is also untrue. On the German side, of course it was all meant just as a moral justification to the German people of a new and desperate war that the regime had recklessly and freely chosen. It was a conscious lie on the part of the regime, an entirely cynical one. We know this with certainty because we have the private statements of the same parties, to each other and to Mussolini, declaring their actual reasons for the invasion, and fear that Russia would attack them itself appears nowhere in those statements. The closest it gets is Hitler telling Mussolini that Britain hopes to win through an alliance with America or Russia, and that he (Hitler) can't get at America, but he can sure deal with Russia and means to do so.

All the historians looking for ways to salvage conscious lies that excuse the mistakes of tyrants melt into insignificance when you look at the direct evidence of the actions and private explanations and reasoning of those tyrants themselves. There is no mystery in it, we know exactly why they actually did what they did. Later revisionism can't change that.

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