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Manstein: Hitler's Greatest General

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  210 ratings  ·  19 reviews

Among students of military history, the genius of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein (1887–1973) is respected perhaps more than that of any other World War II soldier. He displayed his strategic brilliance in such campaigns as the invasion of Poland, the Blitzkrieg of France, the sieges of Sevastopol, Leningrad, and Stalingrad, and the battles of Kharkov and Kursk.


Hardcover, 647 pages
Published 2010 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  210 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Adam Connell
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Elusive Wehrmacht Mastermind Finally, Marvelously, Deconstructed

MANSTEIN is irrefutably the best biography to emerge from the mountain and rubble of material about the Second World War.

While he never captured the popular imagination of such figures as the Desert Fox, Schneller Heinz, Monty, or Ike, Erich von Manstein was perhaps the most gifted General in the entire war. Literate and aristocratic, he was an operational and tactical genius who always planned ten steps ahea
Steven Peterson
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a fine biography of German General Erich von Manstein. The author, Major General Mungo Melvin, does a nice job of tracing the trajectory of Manstein's life--from childhood until his later years. Many who have examined Manstein's relationship with Adolf Hitler wonder. . . . And that is the takeoff point for this book (Page 7): "If there is one dominant theme of this analysis, then it is the exploration of the complex relationship between a commander-in-chief and his head of state."
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This book was an amazing find. The Author doesn't really take sides in regards to Manstein's political views or even the arguments over his ability. Only once pointing out that Manstein wasn't really a strategist but an operational specialist. A level of military command ability that the author places between tactics and strategy.

While this book is mostly stand-alone, it does take a great deal of information and comparisons from Manstein's own work, 'Lost Victories'. So for some, it might be be
Susan Paxton
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent bio of a complicated man and great general. British Army Major General Mungo Melvin has done a wonderful job gathering information and analysing sources to give an unbiased view of Manstein. Highly recommended!
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
An impressive and well-researched book. 4.5 stars if I could give it.

The book maintains an impressive depth of research and objective tone. The author, a British Major General, is particularly well suited to the explain the subject material. His access to personal papers and the experiences of a military apparatus serve him well. He covers Manstein's brilliant successes and ethical lapses equally. The maps are quite helpful in illustrating the details of military planning.

Bob Mustin
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the things that interests me about biographies is the ability of the writer to depict historical events, not chronologically necessarily, but centered about the personality in question. It’s a way of seeing history from a very personal vantage point, rather than from the omniscient, “on high” pose historians most often strike. This book does that, using Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, the man Hitler increasingly made responsible for Germany’s prosecution of its war against the Soviet Un ...more
Stan Bebbington
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Manstein" was written by a British General who was also an academic historian. He gave himself a difficult task, to present an accurate picture of an enigmatic individual whose career became tangled up with the Nazis. He managed to deal with the dilemma of taking the career advantages of a dictatorial regime with assuming ignorance of the considerable side issues of brutality, criminality and direct interference in the operations of the German military machine.
Martin Samuels
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An outstanding work on one of Germany's most outstanding soldiers.

Although the book starts slowly, following Manstein's own autobiography closely for the first decades of his life, it really comes to life with the outbreak of the Second World War, where Manstein's influence and experience was to become of global importance. In contrast to some biographies of other senior German commanders, Melvin draws upon his own experience as a high-ranking general to explore Manstein's approach t
May 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book. The depth of research is clear from the outset and the author has vclearly left no stone unturned in capturing the essence of his man.

He writes really well; the pace is good; the level of detail is excellent; importantly it is delivered in a very personal/readable style.

The quality of the maps and the photos are the best that I have ever come across. The author's military experience both as a strategist, engineer and historian has blended well t
Nov 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-researched and informative biography of General Manstein. He is less well known outside Germany where he was revered, during his lifetime. This is an even-handed account which does address the extent to which he was complicit in the atrocities committed on the eastern front. Without doubt he was as guilty as sin and lucky to get away without being hanged. (my opinion anyway).But a great defensive general who fought a good fight and like Monty, could have fought a much better one without i ...more
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Somewhat of a tough read due to the level of detail which seemed to detract from rather than supplement the overall assessment of Manstein as a military leader. However, I do think it is essential reading as a supplement to flesh out and explain, in a very balanced way, what Manstein wrote in "Lost Victories". I feel like I understand Manstein better after reading this book and I have a better feel for how Manstein fit into World War II overall, especially the post war prosecution of German gene ...more
Andrew Garrie
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the better military biographies I've read. Manstein is probably one of the most under appreciated generals of this conflict and MGen Melvin has probably done more than anyone to elucidate his contributions to the German war machine on the eastern front. Brings humanity down to one of the most brutal conflicts in recorded history. I particularly found the description of the politicization of his war trial fascinating. Just a reminder that wrong is decided by the victor. Great damn book.
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
* Detailed assessments of Mansteins' strengths and flaws, as well as reviews on his major operations.
* Many challenges in his life, from his military struggles against the Russians and Hitler to his criminal prosecution, are described very well.
* The German and Russian terms are provided, not just the English translation.

* The battles are not covered with enough detail.
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Solid history, well written, balanced and continually interesting
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding reading! Recommend it to anyone interested in an analysis and comparison with Manstein's own memoirs.
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. A very in-depth account of a brilliant general.
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very good but very much a biography. I would have e hoped for more focus on his thinking as a military operationalist
Cold War Conversations Podcast
Good bio of Manstein, but would benefit from some maps.
Robert Boyle
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
A good biography. Good research. Left me wondering about him. (Sorry, written in haste)
Jim Hunter
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Major-General Robert Adam Mungo Simpson Melvin CB OBE is a retired British Army officer, and a noted military historian.