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Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, and the Consequences for World War II
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Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, and the Consequences for World War II

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Selected by General Raymond Odierno, 38th Army Chief of Staff, for the U.S. Army Chief of Staff's Professional Reading List, for "The Army Profession," March 2012. Selected by General James F. Amos, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, as required reading for all senior enlisted men and all Majors and Lieutenant-Colonels, January 2013.Selected by Major General H.R. McMaste ...more
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published June 10th 2011 by University of North Texas Press
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Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
An okay book, providing a good overview of late 19th and early 20th century education models in the US and Prussian/German armies, but perhaps a bit too onerous in its conclusions. The author seeks to understand why the US Army’s model of Officer education adapted in the late 19th century from the Prussian model did not “churn out” the same quality of tactical leaders during WWII that were seen in the German Army. In this the author adopts a version of the “materialistic dominance” concept for t ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership, wwii
'Command Culture' is a fascinating book that I ran across one day while perusing the titles at Barnes & Noble. The subject is one I found to be quite novel. The author compares the US and German militaries during the first half of the 20th century.

The scope of the book is largely the officer selection process, service academies, and approaches towards leadership. As mentioned, the time frame is during the 20th century, but the author slips back in time even further in order to provide additiona
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is a cautionary tale about the dangers of converting Ph.D. dissertations into books. Muth, whose native tongue is German, takes on a worthy topic but his committee, which was probably not conversant in military history, lets him down. Similarly, his publisher (the same university) could have sprung for a good copy editor with salutary effect. Whether he wrote in German and suffered from a poor translator, or he wrote in English using German idiom and structure, the result is disappoint ...more
Martin Samuels
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
In this fascinating book, Muth presents a relentless attack on the US Army's system of officer education, constantly contrasting it negatively with the equivalent approaches in the German Army.

In essence, Muth argues that the system at both West Point (and similar officer cadet institutions such as VMI) and Fort Leavenworth was based on the twin beliefs that the best education for officers was through a mathematical / engineering paradigm, coupled with rigid peer discipline and total submission
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great book that gives leaders a better understanding of the origins of Mission Command. It also provides insight into what a command climate should look like within our units.
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: usmc
Over the course of six chapters, the author makes the argument that prior to WWII Germany had a superior system of education for it's army officers-- a system that resulted in true leaders who were taught to think creatively, improvise and lead from the front. By contrast, the author details how the American army officer education system was mired in a stiff legacy that expected army officers to 'manage' their subordinates and adhere to strict doctrine while leading from a tent far from the batt ...more
In some ways a rather odd and polemical work, as the author examines the ways in which the U.S. Army tried to apply what they thought the Prussian army had to teach about officer development, and mostly got it wrong. Muth, who professes a great admiration for American arms, makes the old structures of hazing at West Point his prime target and essentially argues that the inmates had taken over the asylum, comparing this to the German system of schools that found more positive ways of inculcating ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting comparison of officer selection and training in the United States and Germany in the interim years between the World Wars.

The author is harshly critical of the American system of officer education, in which military academies produced conformist, cautious leaders with little knowledge of tactics and even less understanding of actual soldiers. At West Point, cadets were taught to memorize the numbers of windows in their buildings but not how to maneuver a platoon or call fo
Joseph Stieb
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
In Command Culture, Jorg Muth, a German scholar of the American military, compares the officer education systems of the U.S. Army and the German Armed forces from 1901 to 1940 and explains the consequences of those systems for officer performance in battle in World War II. Command culture is Muth’s useful term for how an officer corps collectively understands its roles and options on the battlefield, solves tactical and strategic problems, and interacts with people above or below in the chain of ...more
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Army leadership training.

This book was very clear on the attention that needs to be focused on during the initial education of officers at any academy.
Frank A.
May 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Well written book. I could not put it down. I find some holes with his argument but he makes sense in some aspect.
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
So far, a fascinating read that examines the American and German officer education systems from 1901-1940. Muth compares approaches towards officer education in both countries from pre-commissioning through the Command and General Staff/Kriegsakademie school through senior military schooling such as the War College.

Muth highlights the general reluctance of American officers to go to school in the first place. In many cases, such as Creighton Abrams, he did not go to a single school from when he
Fred Leland
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a fantastic book not only the historical analysis of United States and German Armies during WWII and what made them execute in combat but how the training, eduction and selection of officers effected their performance. The books explains the importance of things like mutual trust and auftragstaktik (mission oriented command system) that led to an understanding and acceptance of the need for decision thresholds to be fixed as far down the hierarchy as possible, and for freedom ...more
Mark Eickhoff
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Dr. Muth completely flips over the apple cart in this thought-provoking comparison and contrast of the officer education systems of the U.S. and German armies prior to WWII. He demonstrates that American officer education--as exemplified by West Point and the Command and General Staff School--was based on rank, conformity, rigid adherence to doctrine, and school solution approaches to military problems. This contrasted with the Prussian/German system that was based far more on individual merit, ...more
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Comparative analyses are frequently useful as in this book that examines both the US and German officer education processes and institutions between 1901-1940. It provides a useful history as precursor to contemporary analyses of professional military education. History may not repeat itself, but it certainly echoes, and it is not hard to see that some of the issues in military education that were problematic in the early 1900s remain suggesting they are deeply rooted in military culture. I reco ...more
T.D. Krupp
Feb 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Overall an excellent book. Where Dr. Muth is lacking is an equal glimpse into today's Bundeswehr as he did for the U.S. Army's opening maneuvers in Iraq in the last chapter.
Zhifei Ge
Feb 13, 2016 added it
Shelves: history
A book good comparing military cadet education between USA and Germany. It touches the cultural aspects with in-depth thoughts. The only thing lacking is quantitative comparisons.
Rob Humphrey
A very interesting comparison of the U.S. And German officer education systems.
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『(ARJUN REDDY™)』(^_^)
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93 likes · 16 comments
“Knowing the superiors’ intentions, however, is a prerequisite for the successful employment of the famous Auftragstaktik, a cornerstone of the German military culture that will be more closely discussed later. Moltke the Elder is one of the earliest proponents of this revolutionary concept. As early as 1858 he remarked at the annual Great General Staff war games, which were traditionally held in a different part of Germany every year, that “as a rule an order should contain only what the subordinate for the achievement of his goals cannot determine on his own.”52 Everything else was to be left to the commander on the spot.” 0 likes
“Command culture” is in this study to be understood as how an officer considers himself to be in command, i.e., does he command as a visible person close to the action or rather through orders by his staff from his command post? It also means the way an officer tackles the turmoil and chaos of battle and war—whether he tries to make sense of it by the application of doctrine or rather utilizes the pandemonium to make bold moves. This study will therefore also deal with the question of whether the command culture of an officer corps emphasizes personal initiative or playing by the rules and regulations.” 0 likes
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