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Instrument of War: The German Army 1914–18

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  65 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Drawing on more than a half-century of research and teaching, Dennis Showalter presents a fresh perspective on the German Army during World War I. Showalter surveys an army at the heart of a national identity, driven by--yet also defeated by--warfare in the modern age, that struggled to capitalize on its victories, and ultimately forgot the lessons of its defeat.

Hardcover, 328 pages
Published November 22nd 2016 by Osprey Publishing
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John Plowright
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dennis Showalter is one of the most respected of military historians writing today, so his new history of the German Army of the 1914-18 conflict, ‘Instrument of War’, has been eagerly anticipated.

It should not disappoint either the academic community or the general readers at whom it is also aimed, although the general readers Showalter has in mind are evidently the sort who already have a working knowledge of the Wars of German Unification.

In general, Showalter expresses himself with admirab
Book received from NetGalley.

I really loved this book. While I have read some books on World War I and have studied it a little in college classes I really don't know much about the soldiers and their training of the era. I learned quite a bit from this book and will definitely be buying a copy for my own shelves
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley.

Institutional histories can be very dry and only of interest to specialists. Dennis Showalter, however, is at his best and most entertaining within the historical genre. Instrument of War: The German Army 1914-18 is intended for general readers, published by Osprey, and definitely gives newcomers a clear and complete—without being complicated—view of the Wilhelmine Army at war. Showalter is one of America’s leading military histori
Heinz Reinhardt
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dennis Showalter, easily the best of the American historians dealing in German military history, presents a highly analytical, profoundly well written, easy to read, if at times superficial, look at the Imperial German Army during the Great War.
Showalter's thesis, that the German Army, distanced from societal norms and having become a force unto itself, turned the distancing into an all out divorce from the State, and ensured its own defeat by operating only for its own needs. While this isn't
William DuFour
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: military
An okay read but could have used a editor or proofreader in some areas.
Joseph Spuckler
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war
Instrument of War: The German Army 1914–18 by Dennis Showalter is a history of World War I based on the German participation. Showalter is a retired Professor of History, past President of the Society for Military History and Joint Editor of War in History specializing in comparative military history. He has written or edited two dozen books and a hundred fifty articles.

World War I was the war that could have been prevented, it, however, set the stage for the 20th century. It was the stubbornnes
Ed Miller
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
First the negatives. Showalter writes in an engaging but distractingly idiosyncratic style. He recycles a complement of quirky idioms, occasionally digresses into foggy explanations of major phenomena, and tinges the discussion of too many subjects with excessive wryness (as the book jacket rightly advertises). This last habit leaves an impression that the Army gradually disintegrated like a Rube Goldberg device rattled apart by its own flailing exertions. To demonstrate that the device was actu ...more
Chris Breese
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I picked this up as a keen student of history and was interested in the German perspective of WW1, having just read Haig. What could be a great informative read is spoilt by the very poor structure and overly complicated use of language.
The book follows the progress of the war from a German perspective but gets muddled up constantly and jumps about one minute talking about the emerging German storm tactics then mixing in high command political issues and throwing in a bit about logistics and ma
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
An accessible one-volume history of the German army during the war, with a strong focus on how its strategy and tactics evolved, and its successes and failures. Showalter also describes the army’s impact on German society and politics during the period.

Most of the focus seems to be on the army officer corps, and Showalter describes its impact on the army’s tactics, operations, and weaponry. The treatment of policy and strategy is also there, if not as prominent. Showalter is fairly critical of L
Edgar Raines
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dennis Showalter wore his learning lightly. He had command of a vast literature in both German and English and used that knowledge to construct this brilliantly written institutional history of the German Army in World War I. The prose is sparkling, often ironic, and shows how a secondary institution at the beginning of the conflict had all but displaced the primary institution by the last year of the war. Showalter has mastered political, economic, social, and technological history to show how ...more
Rick Davis
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I haven't read much on World War I and I found this a fascinating examination of the war from the aspect of the German Army. I've done a lot of reading and studying on WWII and this book provided additional insight into the German mindset. I've read Showalter's book Hitler's Panzers and enjoyed it. Consequently I wasn't disappointed with this one. I do wish that some maps had been included in the book. As a student of military history I like to orient myself to a map and consequently I had to re ...more
Mike Glaser
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and very readable. Any book is a joy which can provide a new way at looking at a subject that has been covered extensively over a long period of time. Good lessons learned and insights on a war that has too often been reduced to a caricature. Would be 4 1/2 stars if Goodreads allowed the half star.
Charles Inglin
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting study of the German Army of World War I. What Mr. Showalter presents is in many ways a very different creature than what readers of Anglo-French histories of the war are familiar with.
Christer Dørmænen
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellently and smartly written as well as easy to digest, a must for anyone with a interest in the WW1 period.
Stuart Cole
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Whilst a fair overview of the German Imperial Army in the Great War, ultimately Showalter's book was disappointing. It seemed to have been completed in a rush, and the author was not particularly well-served by his editors. He is prone to repetition (particularly of the phrase 'seventh and last'), and occasionally displays and awkward style. It would also have been useful if more detail on individual campaigns (e.g. Somme, Kaiser Battle, etc.) could have been related to the analysis of the balan ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good overview of the imperial german army in ww1, far too short in my opinion considering the scope. some fronts such as the african and eastern front were relatively ignored in comparison to the western front.
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Dennis E. Showalter is a professor emeritus of history at Colorado College. Showalter specializes in German military history. He was president of the American Society for Military History from 1997 to 2001. In addition, Showalter is an advising fellow of the Barsanti Military History Center at the University of North Texas.

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