Inside Hitler's High Command

In This Review

Inside Hitler's High Command

By Geoffrey P. Megargee
University Press of Kansas, 2000
326 pp. $34.95

The military historian Williamson Murray once remarked that the memoirs of German generals after World War II often purvey the "if the Führer had only listened to me" school of historiography. This well-executed history demolishes such self-exculpatory accounts. In a clear but scholarly analysis of the German high command, Megargee shows that the German general staff, despite flashes of real brilliance, had deep, long-term flaws in such areas as intelligence, logistics, and strategic planning. Hitler made any number of mistakes, but so too did his subordinates. On occasion he even seems to have been more strategically astute than they were -- as when he decided to hold the line before Moscow in late 1941 rather than retreat. A solid and important contribution to the study of World War II and German military history, this book also offers a useful assessment of high command in war, a subject often shunted aside for more exhilarating accounts of the battle line. This analysis reminds the reader that it is the drudgery of staff work that often wins and loses wars; it is a tribute to the author's abilities that he can make that fact not only clear but highly interesting.

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